Dwelling in Liminalities: Thinking Beyond Inhabitation. New special issue in EPD with A Simone

Late in December last year, EPD: Society & Space published a special issue I curated with my dear friend AbdouMaliq Simone. This is a project that took years in the making. We are thankful to Natalie Oswin for steering it, for colleagues at the Urban Institute in Sheffield to grant us space for it (thanks to Beth Perry in particular) and of course, we thank all our authors.

The issue includes wonderful contributions by Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, Ammara Maqsood and Fizzah Sajjad, Yaffa Truelove, Sharad Chari, Asha Best and Margaret M Ramírez, Jaime Alves, Nadia Gaber, Tatiana Thieme, Neferti XM Tadiar.

In our intro – ‘Dwelling in Liminalities: Thinking Beyond Inhabitation’ we discuss the driving question of our exploration with this special issue—and of the workshops that preceded it, which we run at the Urban Institute in Sheffield from 2019 to 2021, and the Lab that will follow it at DIST in Turin. The question is around the politics of inhabitation in what that is made uninhabitable. In light of the relegation of the marginalised, impoverished and racialised to both objects of extraction and purveyors of liminality, what constitute viable performances of generativity beyond production? What goes beyond the crisis, if not staying close to interstices through which one has perhaps the only chance to prefigure inhabitation beyond itself? What kind of urban geographical narration—in the literal sense of writing form and style—can convey the tensioned politics of dwelling in, across and through liminalities?

You can find an overview of each contribution here: https://www.societyandspace.org/journal-issues/volume-39-issue-6

Last position on my ERC project now available – RTDA

The last position available on my ERC ‘Inhabiting Radical Housing’ project has been advertised yesterday.
3- year research contract (RTDA) to work in Turin with a fantastic team of international researchers at DIST – Dip. Interateneo di Scienze, Progetto e Politiche del Territorio
The advert is here and it is self-explanatory: https://careers.polito.it/default.aspx?id=43/21/F/A (ENG at the top of the page)
I am on leave now, so I won’t reply to any email. If you have questions, get back to me after the 10th of Jan.
Deadline: 31st Jan 2022.

Ciao, bell hooks

ciao bell hooks

when I did my PhD this book allowed me not to feel ashamed about my working-class self-made ‘culture’
and it allowed me to see the power of feminist thinking
and of black culture and power at large
in ways I never had experienced before.

reading your writing on the margins as a site of resistance
on the power of love
on your liberatory envisioning of a differential kind of home,
had been foundational.

thank you for that, and for all you have taught. peace!

The Polytechnic keeps the agreement with Frontex – I will work for another way of doing research

The Polytechnic has decided to continue the agreement of service between DIST-Ithaca-Polito and Frontex (back story, here). After a meeting of the academic Senate on the 14th of December, the newspaper La Stampa reports that

At the end of the debate it was decided by a large majority to proceed with the signing of the Consortium Agreement with Frontex. At the same time it was decided to introduce a binding clause, which specifies the commitment of both the research staff involved and the client, to act in compliance with respect for human rights and fundamental human rights, as well as the principles of integrity of research.

I wonder how my colleagues in the Senate imagine the possibility of asking Frontex to comply with human rights. There is so much evidence indicating the agency is systematically involved in pushback, which means they are not allowing asylum seekers to enter Europe, therefore impeding them to exercise their right to request asylum. There is evidence indicating the agency is passing information to the so-called Lybian Coastal guard, which ten fire against the boats of migrants in the Mediterranean sea. There is evidence of the agency misusing funds, of agency personnel harassing migrants along the Balkan route, of the agency avoiding interventions when they should be needed, and much, much more. What does “integrity of research” mean in collaborating with such an Agency?

At a personal level, fighting this deal initiated in July (as I explain here). It continued with my public letter to Altrecomia (following the article of the journalist Luca Rondi on the same magazine), and then escalated in a greater number of interviews, articles, interventions (a full list with links at the end of this post). Despite the negative result, the collective that coalesced around this struggle is not lost, and will not be lost.

I want to thank all the ones that believed in this fight. Some of them are within the academy, including within the Politecnico. There are members of the Polytechnic Senate (thank, to some of you, for your courage and intellectual honesty, in particular Daniele Marchisio and Bruno Codispoti); of the administrative services; and of several unions, who have taken a clear position against the deal (thanks in particular to Paolo Barisone). There are some colleagues who did the same – above all, I want to thank Dr. Silvia Aru, a colleague in DIST, who has been always, very clearly, against the whole affair; and I also want to thank a number of Italian and international academics, who signed public petitions making their names visible (thanks to all of you!), who organised their own texts (thanks Paola Minoia), or took time to provide concrete help and advice (thanks Chiara Rabbiosi, Chiara Giubilaro, Simone Tulumello, Maurizio Memoli and Filippo Celata, among many). Thanks, above all, to Gennaro Avallone, Margherita Grazioli, Enrico Gargiulo, and Elena Giacomelli, who help to organise, to share, and to expand the fight; to the Coordinamento Unito and the Coordinamento Polito for their support to the cause; and to Francesca Governa, Marco Santangelo, Camillo Boano, Francesco Chiodelli and Isabella Consolati at DIST, who always discussed this with me, with open minds and hearts. Thanks to my international colleagues: my comrades in FCDL and in the Radical Housing Journal, my friends at the Unequal Cities Network at UCLA, in the Journal City, and those writing supportive statements from so many other corners around the globe, including an amazing one by 30+ colleagues at my old institution, The University of Sheffield, which really helped. There are some Ph.D. students in the DIST who took clear positions too, as well as some of my own students in the MA in Geography, and my own Ph.D. students in Sheffield and Turin (particular thanks to Francesca Guarino and Saanchi Saxena), to whom I am thankful for the support and for believing in the long-term goal of this fight.

However, this has been a fight involving Academia… fought for the most by non-academics or academics without permanent jobs. I have found strength and scope in people writing to me from Palermo to Trieste, and beyond Italy, too. Workers, students, mid-school teachers, retired people, kids. I am thankful to the students that organized in Turin, including the PhDs of ADI Turin, the geography students at Unito, the Gruppo Palestina, Cambiare Rotta and the communist group at Polito. I am thankful for the autonomous realities that hosted public debates on the story,  including Neruda in Turin, and to the journalists who wrote about this case and made it available to broader audiences. Above all, I want to thank Luca Rondi (Altreconomia), Francesca Spinelli (Internazionale), Teresa Paoli (Presadiretta), Giansandro Merli (Manifesto), Peter Yeung (Guardian), Frabrizio Maffioletti (Pressenzia), Marco Siragusa (EastJournal), Nicolò Arpinati (Dinamo Press), the Melitea group, and the comrades Margherita, Francesco e Maria at Radio BlackOut.

Most importantly and relevantly, I am extremely thankful to all the ones working to construct a differential way of dealing with migrations in Italy and Europe. Your care and attention to this story and to my persona have been heartfelt, and it only reaffirmed my conviction (shared with my comrades at FCDL and the RHJ) that only through horizontal solidarities and collective organising we can move meaningfully forward. You are too many to thank, and I will surely miss some. Thanks to the groups Sea Watch, ADIF – Associazione Diritti e Frontiere, Campagna LasciateCIEntrare, Carovane Migranti, Rete Antirazzista Catanese, Cobas Scuola Catania, Osservatorio Solidarietà, Torino per Moria, Borderline Sicilia, Ongi Etorri Errefuxiatuak, Progetto Meltingpot Europa and thanks also to ASGI. And deep thanks to a group of amazing individuals who really made this a collective endeavor, most especially thanks to Yasmine Accardo, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, Gianluca Vitale, Yasha Maccanico, Francesca Mazzuzi, Gennaro Avallone, Stefano Bleggi, Gianfranco Crua, Alfonso Di Stefano, Claudia Mantovan, Mariafrancesca D’Agostino, Maurizio Ricciardi, Barbara Sorgoni, Valeria Ferraris, Sandro Mezzadra, Stefania Spada, Giuseppe Campesi, Silvia De Meo e tant* altr*. Thanks to Leo for having been close to me the whole time.

At this point, I am more and more convinced that continuing to fight Frontex at all levels is very necessary. From my corner, I will create a safe space for critical and radical thinking around inhabitation, migrations and asylum well within DIST and the Polytechnic of Turin, and I will continue to work with my new comrades in the city to offer harbour and to create an alternative vision of what “research integrity” and “integrity” at large means. It is not time to retreat, but time to scale up. Avanti!


Interventions Frontex-POLITO at 14 December 2021


· Il comunicato di Polito di Luglio, con il quale la notizia è stata resa pubblica: https://poliflash.polito.it/in_ateneo/politecnico_e_ithaca_insieme_per_la_produzione_di_cartografia_per_l_agenzia_europea_frontex

· Il pezzo che ha aperto le scene, su Altreconomia: https://altreconomia.it/il-politecnico-di-torino-a-fianco-di-frontex-sul-rispetto-dei-diritti-umani-intanto-cade-il-silenzio/

· La mia lettera pubblica: https://altreconomia.it/non-a-fianco-di-frontex-chi-si-dissocia-dallaccordo-del-politecnico-di-torino/

· La campagna Fuori Frontex dalle nostre Università, nata dopo i pezzi di cui sopra: https://www.lasciatecientrare.it/non-a-fianco-di-frontex/

· Del caso ha parlato anche Repubblica Torino, lo screenshot del pezzo si può trovare qui: https://nextcloud.rinlab.org/index.php/s/xg6WNspZkD5a28N

· Il bellissimo pezzo uscito su Internazionale (in cui si parla del caso a fine testo,e contiene molti riferimenti utili per capire il problema): https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/francesca-spinelli/2021/11/04/frontex-campagna-abolizione

· Una lettera pubblica firmata dai più importanti studiosi sulle migrazioni in Italia, che è uscita sul Manifesto: https://ilmanifesto.it/lettere/fuori-frontex-dalle-nostre-universita/

· Una intervista a Luca Rondi, il giornalista di Altreconomia, che è molto utile per spiegare a chi non vede il problema perchè il tutto è problematico: https://www.meltingpot.org/Il-Politecnico-di-Torino-e-l-accordo-con-Frontex.html#.YYP6n7vTUd2

· Mia intervista al gruppo Melitea, ripresa da Mediterranea Saving Humans: https://gruppomelitea.wordpress.com/2021/11/07/la-mia-universita-lavora-con-frontex-non-in-mio-nome-intervista-al-professor-michele-lancione/#more-2597

· Lettera pubblica indirizzata ai reggenti di Politecnico, da NGO italiane, per rescindere l’accordo: https://altreconomia.it/rescindere-il-contratto-con-frontex-lettera-aperta-al-politecnico-di-torino/

· Articolo su La Stampa: https://www.lastampa.it/torino/2021/11/17/news/protesta_al_politecnico_stop_al_contratto_da_4_milioni_con_frontex_-414438/

· Lettera di supporto dal Coordinamento UniTo: https://coordinamentounito.wordpress.com/2021/11/23/e-questa-la-ricerca-di-frontiera/

· Lettera di supporto dal Coordinamento Polito: https://coordinamentopolito.wordpress.com/2021/11/20/lettera-aperta-al-politecnico-di-torino-riguardo-la-collaborazione-con-frontex/

· Articolo su Internazionale KIDS, che spiega la questione ai ragazzi. Si trova in cartaceo, o scannerizzato, qui: https://nextcloud.rinlab.org/index.php/s/5CW9CSQo6XXAodK

· Articolo di approfondimento su EaST Journal: https://www.eastjournal.net/archives/122096

· Articolo di Pressenza sull’incontro al Politecnico del 1/1/21: https://www.pressenza.com/it/2021/12/torino-fuori-frontex-dal-politecnico/

· Comunicato Lasciateci Entrare su riunione Senato per accordo: https://www.lasciatecientrare.it/frontex-e-ricerca-universitaria-qual-e-il-problema/

· Articolo de La Stampa su assemblea al Politecnico: https://www.lastampa.it/torino/2021/12/02/news/rescindete_quel_contratto_assemblea_pubblica_al_politecnico_contro_l_accordo_con_frontex-991542/

· Dossier di Cambiare Rotta: Il Progetto dell’Unione Europea sui suoi Confini: https://cambiare-rotta.org/2021/12/06/dossier-frontex-il-progetto-dellunione-europea-sui-suoi-confini/

· Altro articolo di Luca Rondi su Altreconomia: https://altreconomia.it/il-politecnico-di-torino-e-a-un-bivio-con-frontex-o-con-i-diritti-umani/

· Presa di posizione del Coordinamento Migranti: https://www.coordinamentomigranti.org/2021/12/06/fare-fronte-contro-frontex-i-migranti-e-la-lotta-sui-confini/

· Dossier del collettivo Metamorfosi: https://www.academia.edu/63947546/Analisi_di_una_committenza_Politecnico_Frontex_un_caso_di_Academic_Washing

· Lettera aperta RSU Polito sul caso Frontex, disponibile qui: https://nextcloud.rinlab.org/index.php/s/tLtzQrzdJcfp8sn

· L’Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI) riporta la nostra lettera: https://www.asgi.it/notizie/rescindere-il-contratto-con-frontex-lettera-aperta-al-politecnico-di-torino/


ITARadio, videos and public meetings:

· Intervista con Radio Blackout: https://radioblackout.org/2021/10/accordo-politecnico-frontex-dissenso-in-accademia-intervista-con-michele-lancione/

· Video di incontro con student* a Palazzo Nuovo Torino. Da min 13 a 39 Lancione spiega l’accordo. Da notare anche intervento dei compagn* di Sea Watch: https://www.facebook.com/CambiareRottaTorino/videos/403610054642077/

· Seminario a Salerno, “Non a fianco di Frontex, non in nostro nome”: https://www.disps.unisa.it/unisa-rescue-page/dettaglio/id/2547/module/488/row/17071

· Prima occasione pubblica di incontro dentro al Politecnico sul tema, con studenti, giornalisti, attivisti, avvocati: https://www.facebook.com/events/593243081942483?ref=newsfeed

· Video intervista per Pressenza: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-kx5hW8FEU&t=245s

· Incontro allo spazio popolare Neruda, Che cos’è Frontex? https://www.facebook.com/events/s/che-cose-frontex/451037489924340/



· Lancione’s letter to Altreconomia, translated into English: https://www.michelelancione.eu/blog/2021/10/24/my-university-works-with-frontex-not-in-my-name/

· AbolishFrontex: https://abolishfrontex.org/blog/2021/10/25/my-university-works-with-frontex-not-in-my-name/ e https://abolishfrontex.org/blog/2021/11/16/open-letter-to-polytechnic-university-of-turin-about-working-for-frontex/

· Statewatch: https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/november/not-alongside-frontex-academics-speak-out-against-border-collaboration/

· Letter from the Decolonise.eu network: https://decolonise.eu/not-alongside-frontex/

· Debate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/michelelancione/status/1452507202867154946

Infrastructure, Inequality and the Neo-Apartheid City – USF seminar series @Newcastle

I am very happy to take part in the third and last event in the “Infrastructure, Inequality and the Neo-Apartheid City” series, organised by Dr Mori Ram, Dr Charlotte Lemanski, and Prof. Haim Yacobi with the support of the Urban Studies Foundation. Info about the whole series, here.

The third event, entitled “Mobility and Movement beyond Apartheid” will take place online on 09 December 2021, from 10.00am to 4.00pm (UK time). It will concentrate on the ability to connect or disconnect residents from the city by critically exploring how infrastructures of transportation and mobility determine who can move freely, to where, and in what speed and frequency. Infrastructure is crucial to any analysis of political mobility and movement. At the same time, regimes of separation solidify social and political (in)equality that hinder the ability to relocate and sets the urban conditions that reorganize human capacity to move, settle and reside.

My paper will be titled Infrastructural violence and the impossible possibility of ‘home’.

Register here for the event. Thanks!

Keynote at the RGS-IBG Urban Geography conference with Veda Popovici (18 Nov)

This Friday, with my beloved sister, comrade and friend Veda Popovici, we will give one of the keynotes at the 2021 RGS-IBG Urban Geography Research Group Annual Conference ‘Cities of Hope’.
I am thrilled to share the floor with the amazing Gautam Bhan, Loretta Lees, Verónica Gago and their partners.
With Veda we are going to talk on “The false symmetry of research-activism. Towards accomplicenship and undercommon praxis”.
Friday 19th, from 10am UTC.

The false symmetry of research-activism. Towards accomplicenship and undercommon praxis, Michele Lancione in conversation with Veda Popovici.

Academia and activism have long been exploring their intersections, overlaps and tensions. Going beyond a reductive “make academia more activist” slogan, we propose to start by exploring the false symmetry of academia vs activism from epistemological, material and geopolitical perspectives. With these in mind, we raise the questions: what is the starting point of a shared space between organising and the academy? What kind of epistemological change is needed in academia to work with organising? How can we work with the academia’s privileges for political struggle? We propose the concepts of accomplicenship and undercommon praxis to anchor a politics of duplicity (as opposed to one of authenticity) committed to radical redistribution and movement sustainability.

Frontex out of our Universities! Articles in l’Internazionale and il Manifesto + Petition

Two major news outlets, among others,  are talking of this matter today in Italy (my original story is here).

Francesca Spinelli interviewed me for the Internazionale , while il Manifesto has published a collective letter of Italian academics working on migrations to keep #Frontex out of our Academic Institutions.

A nationwide campaign has also started from the grassroots, at Lasciateci Entrare.

Keynote on Planning for Social Justice at DASTU, in Milan w/Oren Yftachel

Tomorrow I will be delivering one of the keynotes at the “Planning for Social Justice” event DAStU – Politecnico di Milano, at 9:30am CET

I am excited to share the floor with my City – Analysis of Urban Change, Theory and Action comrade, the wonderful Oren Yiftachel

The event is also online, info: https://www.eccellenza.dastu.polimi.it/2021/10/25/planning-for-social-justice-conference-02-11-2021/

I will be presenting on Inhabiting Racialised Dispossession in Bucharest, Romania

Below is the full event’s poster.

My University works with Frontex: not in my name

My Department at the Polytechnic of Turin is creating maps for Frontex, the EU border control agency, which is involved in the violent pushbacks of refugees.

I wrote to Altreconomia – the magazine that broke the story – to dissociate myself and to fight this agreement. The full story is available on their website: https://altreconomia.it/non-a-fianco-di-frontex-chi-si-dissocia-dallaccordo-del-politecnico-di-torino/

I have translated the piece in English below.

With a few colleagues we have been fighting this agreement since July when it was announced, and we will continue to fight it now. This public statement is a message for students and partners. Some of us are not silent, some of us are vigil, some of us will not stay put. Universities are complicit in bordering and racial violence: it needs to stop.

UPDATE 4-11-2021: Two major news outlets, among others,  are talking of this matter today in Italy. Francesca Spinelli interviewed me for the Internazionale , while il Manifesto has published a collective letter of Italian academics working on migrations to keep #Frontex out of our Academic Institutions. A nationwide campaign has also started from the grassroots, at Lasciateci Entrare.


Not alongside Frontex


           “The deeds were monstrous, but the doer […] was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.”

              Hannah Arendt

I am an academic from the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST) of the Politecnico and the University of Turin. I am writing this text to publicly dissociate myself from the agreement signed between my Department, the Politecnico di Torino, Ithaca Srl and Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

As an article published by the magazine Antreconomia points out, the agreement, which involves the production of cartography at my Department’s laboratories on behalf of Frontex, was announced on July 14, 2021, by press release. In the communiqué, it is stated that DIST and Ithaca will be involved in the production of digital cartography, infographic maps and map books useful for the Agency’s work“. On an intellectual and human level, I am not represented by the position of the institution I work for, which has chosen to define the agreement with Frontex as a project that “fits perfectly into the strategic objective of the Department”. The issue, however, is not only personal but political.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency has been accused by NGOs, activists, and international agencies on several occasions of being directly involved in the violent deportations of migrants at European borders. The most notorious is the Greek case, now before the European Court of Justice, where we are sure of the illegality of the Agency’s forced removals and its role in destroying documents that show the illegal use of force to return refugees to Turkey. This episode is just the culmination of a strategy operated by the European Union, through Frontex, to manage the EU’s borders through expulsive, racialising and lethal principles against those who move to seek protection on the continent.

As a critical academic and a citizen engaged, through the privilege of my position, in understanding and combating the structural and mundane violence constructing, and managing, the racialised “other”, I have done everything in my power to highlight the gravity of this agreement between a public university – my Department – and Frontex. I mobilised with some colleagues since July 14 (the day I learned about the contract) to question what was decided. We spoke out in the departmental council, where the agreement was presented, highlighting the gravity of the decision. We then worked to understand whether it was possible to cancel the contract. We also asked that this activity should not be carried out on behalf of the whole Department, but that the individuals involved should take the weight and responsibility of their action. On all fronts, the responses were negative: we received just offers of dialogue, discussion, and matter of internal power-balancing. But this is not enough.

The problem here is not just in the kind of data that Ithaca and my Department will provide to Frontex. The researchers involved in the project say it is open source, harmless data. Beyond the fact that no data is ever harmless, the issue is about lending one’s name – individual and institutional – to legitimise the work of an agency like Frontex. Because this is what you do, when you collaborate: you help the violent and expulsive apparatus of the European Union to legitimise itself, to clothe itself with scientific objectivity, to reduce everything to a technical issue that reproduces its evil by turning it into a passing of documents between hands. History should have taught us something in this respect in Europe, but clearly, we have learned nothing.

The Department has chosen to continue the agreement, inviting me and some colleagues who have expressed reservations to contribute to its development by highlighting the problematic aspects of Frontex’s activity. It has also decided not to publicly represent our dissent, preferring the line of silence, which is also that of the Polytechnic.

However, I believe it is impossible to work with those who, like Frontex, repel, foment xenophobia, and kill. With this text, I dissociate myself from the agreement. At the same time, I renew my commitment to my students, colleagues and partners who will always find, in my Department and at the Politecnico di Torino, tools and spaces for radical criticism, which requires a precise positioning: not alongside Frontex.

Michele Lancione, Full Professor of Political-Economic Geography, DIST, Turin