On the academic boycott against Israel + new work to stop dual-use agreement with Italy (MAECI)

For a few weeks, a number of academics in Italy have been working to stop an agreement between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State of Israel to finance ‘scientific projects’ that can lead themselves to military use. The agreement – this one – speaks of research focused on ‘frontier applications’ in the realm of precision optics, electronics and quantum technologies. Working for this kind of technologies with the State of Israel today means working with its military-industrial complex.

Our letter received more than 2,500 signatures from concerned academics and university personnel around Italy, and students have used it to organise on the matter across the country. We scored some concrete successes since the agreement has been stopped, or at least put in question, in a number of Universities, including Turin and the Normale of Pisa. The original letter – here – is in Italian, but I am translating it a bit below:

“At the end of February 2024, we learn that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is announcing a call for joint research projects based on the Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement between Italy and Israel. We emphasise that the funding could be used to develop dual-use technology, i.e. for both civil and military use. This would aggravate our country’s international responsibilities since, despite the government’s assurances, Italy does not seem to have stopped exporting weapons to Tel Aviv as of 7 October 2023.
Given these premises, we demand that industrial, scientific and technological cooperation between Italian and Israeli universities and research centres be suspended, with the aim of putting pressure on the state of Israel to commit to respecting all international law, as is rightly demanded of all states in the world.
We also make this request in order to protect Italian institutions from the accusation of not having fulfilled the imperative duty to prevent genocide, wherever there is a danger of it, which is an obligation for UN member states according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or of being complicit in war crimes, currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The MAECI notice does not protect Italian institutions because it may include the development of dual-use technologies and devices. Our request is in line with the statement, dated 23 February 2024, by numerous UN experts that member states should immediately refrain from transferring weapons and military technology to Israel, including research and know-how for possible war use, as there is an inescapable risk that they will be used to violate customary obligations under international humanitarian law. Moreover, the collaborations that we are asking to be discontinued appear to be in serious conflict with the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights that the government itself claims to be overseeing. It would be paradoxical to ask businesses to respect rights that are deemed secondary or violable in the actions of public and research organisations, which have a duty to comply with the republican constitutional order (which includes international law as an integral part of it).”

We have now prepared a new statement since tomorrow is the last day to stop the agreement, and strike action has been prepared by students and unions in Italy. Here is the text, in Italian: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y8j8lPk9ptCog1U0gZL2m7-gxXLPXcwH9KGHSeqH_kU/edit

The conclusions read:

“On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”

Below I am reporting some interviews I have been releasing in national media, on la Stampa, il Fatto Quotidiano and Repubblica on this matter. Similar exposure work has been done by a number of comrades (both students, unionists and academics), who have been attacked on national media. Avanti!

For a liberatory politics of home – in conversation with Mezzadra, Governa, Grazioli, Aru (5th April) (ITA)

Venerdì 5 aprile, 3pm, al DIST avremo un confronto sul mio ultimo libro For a Liberatory Politics of Home (Duke University Press, 2023). Ci saranno Sandro Mezzadra, Margherita Grazioli, Francesca Governa e Silvia Aru.

Siete tutt* invitat* in Sala Vigliano. Allego il poster con preghiera di diffusione anche a dottorand* e post-doc interessat* a geografie della casa e dell’abitare.

Per seguire online bisogna registrarsi a questo link: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pd-qpqz4vH9fcvrbnTg2394XX7dKQ2ssn

L’incontro sarà in lingua italiana.

Three events this week on war economies, the militarization of education & BDS-Palestine in Turin and Milan

Spring has arrived, and the horror of the Israeli war and so many other wars are still here. We must not stop studying and discussing the intensification of militarization in our collective lives in the West and beyond. This week in Turin and in Milan, I will take part in three exciting public events, open to all (discussion will be in Italian).

On Monday, the 25th, at 20:30 in Turin (at OST Barriera), there will be a meeting on the capitalistic mode of production and the fragmentation of international markets. It is the launch of a very interesting book by the Rete dei Comunisti, upon which I will offer some reflections, among others.

On Tuesday, the 26th, at 16:00 in Milan (at the Universitá Statale di Milano, Legnaia), I will be discussing my book Universitá e Militarizzazione and be talking about the relationship between the university and the military sector with students and comrades.

Finally, on Thursday, the 28th, at 18:30 in Turin (at the Kontiki place via Cigliano), I will discuss a book, with others, about the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction campaign and the involvement of Italian authorities in doing all sorts of problematic (read: militarized) dealings with the Israeli state.

I look forward to all of this! Posters and info are below.

Book launch: For a Liberatory Politics of Home at the UI, Sheffield (video recording)

The Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield, UK, hosted a hybrid event to launch my new book ‘For a Liberatory Politics of Home‘ published by Duke University Press

The event took place on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. I introduced the book, followed by Professor Vanesa Castán Broto’s response at the Urban Institute. The recording of the seminar is available at the UI page, below and on our YouTube channel at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m8pUyxzM6I&t=31s

In the book, I question accepted understandings of home and homelessness to offer a radical proposition: homelessness cannot be solved without dismantling current understandings of home. Conventionally, home is framed as a place of security and belonging, while its loss defines what it means to be homeless. On the basis of this binary, a whole industry of policy interventions, knowledge production, and organizing fails to provide solutions to homelessness but perpetuates violent and precarious forms of inhabitation. Drawing on his research and activism around housing in Europe, the book attends to the interlocking crises of home and homelessness by recentering the political charge of precarious dwelling. It is there, if often in unannounced ways, that a profound struggle for a differential kind of homing signals multiple possibilities to transcend the violences of home/homelessness. In advancing a new approach to work with the politics of inhabitation, the book provides a critique of current practices and offers a transformative vision for a renewed, liberatory politics of home.

I thank the Urban Institute for making the registration of this book launch available to me and the Lab.

Meeting in Turin on Universities and the Military (Mon 18th, 5pm CET) (ITA)

La settimana prossima, lunedí 18 continuiamo a confrontarci su guerra, universitá e militarizzazione con collegh* di CERTO (Coordinamento per l’Etica nella Ricerca) e corpo studentesco.

Ore 17 in presenza presso Sala Lauree del Dipartimento di Lingue

(Complesso Aldo Moro, Via S. Ottavio 18, terzo piano) o online al link nel poster.

Grazie a Pietro e Lorenzo per aver organizzato e per esserci!

Link al libro: https://www.erisedizioni.org/prodotto/universita-e-militarizzazione/

Book launches in Sheffield and London, 12th and 13th March

Next week I will present my book, For a Liberatory Politics of Home (Duke University Press), with colleagues and friends in Sheffield & London.

12th March 4pm GMT, at the Urban Institute in Sheffield. The event will be in person & online. Register at 👉 https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/urban-institute/news/book-launch-liberatory-politics-home-michele-lancione

13th March 4pm GMT, at Kings College, Department of Geography, in-person only.

Thanks to Beth Perry and Katherine Brickell for organising!

The epistemic tangles of urban inhabitation – Workshop UI (Sheffield) – Beyond Inhabitation Lab, 23-24 May 2024

Applications now welcome to participate in a workshop on 23-24 May 2024 ‘The epistemic tangles of urban inhabitation’ organised jointly by the Urban Institute (University of Sheffield) and Beyond Inhabitation Lab (Polytechnic University of Turin).

Deadline for submission March 25th 2024.

Apply here to present or attend the workshop.

In the twenty-first century we are still facing the challenge of how to address the question of planetary ‘habitability’. Inhabitation is in crisis, as increasing numbers of people are drawn into precarious lives, existing trajectories make life uninhabitable for billions, and migration feeds a new protectionism around affluent places. Attention must focus beyond the narrow domains of housing, homelessness or shelter, to the wider material and cultural structures of power and related forms of injustice which shape how we live in cities across the planet.

In this workshop, Beth Perry (Urban Institute) and Michele Lancione (Beyond Inhabitation Lab) invite scholars to discuss the relationship between urban inhabitation and epistemic practices, with the aim of investigating and unpacking the multiple politics, scales and spaces through which questions of knowing and doing the urban are produced and challenged across place and time. To start with, we are working with following basic definitions:

  • Urban inhabitation: the ways in which human (and non-humans) manage to make lives worth living in different urban contexts around the world;
  • Epistemic practice: the ways in which forms of data, knowledge and expertise shape the politics, policies and practices of urban inhabitation.

Understanding diverse ways of inhabiting the urban requires different ways of knowing the urban. Whilst scholars often emphasise the unknowability of the urban, and hence how we inhabit it in so many different ways, epistemic practices perpetuate which strive for sufficient certainty as a precursor for action. Critical scholars may inadvertently bolster hegemonic knowledge practices, as a refusal to settle on knowing anything enables certain forms of knowledge and expertise to be dismissed whilst others are heralded as legitimate.

Clearly, epistemic practice and urban inhabitation are not separated in everyday life. The distinction we propose here is therefore only analytical: it allows us to invite a focus on the epistemic tangles where struggles for more just city life emerge and unfold. We believe a specific focus on these practices is critical to shape wider understanding of the urban political – from global policy to grassroots action – where questions of epistemology and inhabitation are fused together and require more precise and direct questioning. Whilst such issues are often confined to the realm of policy (for instance, through ideas of evidence-based policy), we are interested in exploring the often mundane geographies where ways of knowing become crucial to tackle unjust ways of inhabiting, and vice versa – where counter-inhabitation practices may even ground questions around who we are and what it means to be human.

The focus of the workshop is therefore on the tangles between ways of inhabiting and ways of knowing the urban. The primary goal is to convene a space for dialogue and discussion leading to a special issue of a journal (for instance, South Atlantic Quarterly, Environment and Planning D or International Journal of Urban and Regional Research). However, please note, an invitation to present at the workshop cannot guarantee inclusion in the special issue and we are also interested in work-in-development that is not yet ready for publication.

The event will bring scholars together to discuss written provocations circulated in advance of the meeting, with the idea of making the most out of the in-person intellectual exchanges. Themes to be explored could include:

  • What does it mean to be urban-human, in relation to how we know ourselves and to other forms of collective identity and intelligence?
  • How do material and affective junctures of urbanity – including housing, infrastructure and logistics – with their loaded colonial, racial and financialised histories, produce new forms of epistemic injustice?
  • What ways of knowing are required to address the underlying structures of racial and gendered injustice and violence underpinning mainstream forms of urban inhabitation?
  • What epistemic vocabularies can help us reframe, reveal, repair and reimagine urban inhabitation?
  • How do we move beyond existing comparative imaginations through new forms of trans-local practice and study, attentive to the specificity of history and place?
  • What types of knowledge are required to understand new practices of urban inhabitation – how should they be produced and by whom?
  • What epistemic orders, contestations and forms of apartheid shape the theories and practices of urban inhabitation?
  • How to ‘think and do’ on the counterhegemonic use of urban knowledge within and beyond science?
  • What does it mean to ask these questions within the academy (ie not by renouncing to it, but staying with its troubles)?

All subsistence costs will be covered (food and accommodation). Travel bursaries will be available according to need and our budget limit. We welcome UK and international applicants. The workshop is intended to be face-to-face but we will consider hybrid participation on a case-by-case basis (for instance, if there are restrictions on visas, caring responsibilities and/or budgets).

How to participate:  

Submit 250 word abstract by Monday 25th March. Selected contributors will be notified by Wednesday 27th March.

Contributors will then be asked to prepare a draft of 1500-2,000 words summarising their main argument by Monday 6th May, which will be circulated to discussants.

Each contributor will be act as a discussant on another paper and will be expected to prepare a constructive response.

Limited places will also be available for attendance only (non-presenters).

Any questions, contact Beth b.perry@sheffield.ac.uk

Sign up here.

Our petition to fight the agreement between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the state of Israel (ITA)

Con le bravissime Paola Rivetti e Alessandra Algostino (e tant* altr*) promuoviamo questa lettera indirizzata al Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale (MAECI) riguardante la rinnovata cooperazione di ricerca tra istituzioni italiane e israeliane.

Come si puo’ vedere dal bando – https://www.esteri.it/it/diplomazia-culturale-e-diplomazia-scientifica/cooperscientificatecnologica/accordi_coop_indscietec/ – non ci sono indicazioni per escludere che tale cooperazione porti allo sviluppo di tecnologie dual use, anzi: la terza linea di finanziamento e’ chiaramente utilizzabile per lo sviluppo di tecnologie di sorveglianza e controllo.

Chiediamo la sospensione del bando non solo per ragioni morali, ma anche per proteggere le istituzioni italiane che hanno il dovere di prevenzione di genocidio secondo la convenzione del 1948 e che, quindi, collaborando con le istituzioni israeliane, si potrebbero esporre al rischio di complicita’ con quello che la ICJ ha definito ‘un rischio palusibile di genocidio

La nostra lettera: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q5uuXmdJeDEyi06Kv1VkLPXAeVkMbfl8gHxPh6JGLQM/edit

Il form per firmarla: https://forms.gle/FC6vSN1Z98mDEy75A

Beyond Inhabitation Lab – 2024 Spring-Summer Events

I am excited to announce the Beyond Inhabitation Lab‘s 2024 Spring-Summer Seminar Series. We will be hosting seven events, including a book discussion, a collective conversation as well as five seminars by distinguished scholars who will present their work pertaining to inhabitation and urban struggles across diverse geographies. 

All events are free to attend online by registering at the links below, and all sessions will be recorded and made available on the Lab’s YouTube channel.

Please find a summary of the major info below. For more details and the individual events’ posters, check the Lab’s events page.


The first seminar will occur on 21st March 2024, 5 p.m. CET, with Enikő Vincze’s “Why invest in Romania?” Investment strategies and state interventions advancing real estate development in semipheripheries. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pc-yvrTMrGNx3ocrgPCMAQcWpmzeL6Z9B

The second seminar will take place on 28th March 2024, 5 p.m. CET, with Aya Nassar’s “Giving up the Idea of Home”: ambivalent geographies, geopoetics and resisting capture in the cities of the Middle East. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMtf-iorT4tGNz_MyXIlZpi9Kh8EqP041Ud

On the 5th April 2024, 3 p.m. CET, we will host a conversation around Michele Lancione‘s latest book, For a Liberatory Politics of Home (Duke University Press, 2023) with Sandro Mezzadra, Francesca Governa, Margherita Grazioli and Silvia Aru. The seminar will be in Italian and will be in-person in Turin. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pd-qpqz4vH9fcvrbnTg2394XX7dKQ2ssn

On the 11th April 2024, 3 p.m. UTC (4 p.m. CET), we will host a conversation for the Global Urban History Project co-organised by Wangui Kimari and Michele Lancione on Urban Undersides, with Alana Osbourne, Irene Peano and Rodrigo Castriota. To attend online register at: https://www.globalurbanhistory.org/content.aspx?page_id=4008&club_id=803980&item_id=2154067

The third seminar will take place on 9th May 2024, 5 p.m. CET, with Irene Peano’s Made in Italy: Contemporary archaeologies of agribusiness’ encampment archipelago. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pf-itqjkjHNJma_UTesE0obNQclW6AB-v

The fourth seminar will take place on 23th May 2024, 5 p.m. CET, with Mona Fawaz’s Inhabiting Beirut’s Cycles of Boom and Bust. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUuc-mrqjgpGNWyIv7XxQiYsTdN0B-pcEgV

In the Lab’s fifth and final seminar, on 13th June 2024, 5 p.m. CET, we will have Emma Shaw Crane‘s Martial Matters: Race, Environment, and Surplus in the Suburb. To attend online register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApcuqtpzkuE9FebU-97xI6gRMnS7r6cz5t


We look forward to having you join us!

Student assembly on Israel, the war machine and the role of our Universities | Today in Turin

From Israel to Leonardo: The role of our universities in the war industry.

Today 17:30 at the Einaudi campus in Turin with Cambiare Rotta Torino, End Fossil and the Palestine Project.

The meeting is a conversation amongst anti-militarist and anti-extractive collectives, with the idea of gathering our knowledge and publishing an open-source booklet on these topics. All welcome.