Eura 2016: Urban Walk at the Margins of Turin


Urban Walk Turin

I am very happy to be part of the EURA 2016 conference in my – adoptive – city of Turin! If you are around, here are just some of the exciting things we’re are gonna do in Turin:

  • We will start on Thursday the 16th at 9pm with the presentation of Alex Vasudevan’s book ‘Metropolitan Preoccupations’ with Francesco Chiodelli and Ola Soderstrom as discussant (all info here)
  • Second, there are the two interesting panels that Elisabetta Rosa and myself have organised around ‘Committed positioning. Politics, activism and ethnographic encounters in the contemporary city‘ (one and two)
  • Third, always with Elisabetta, we have organised a very exciting urban walk at the Margins of Turin. Below you can read our brief, while at the following link you can find more info and additional material: Turin and its margins_Urban Walk_EURA 2016;
  • Lastly, on Saturday at 6.30pm we will also present my own edited book, Rethinking Life at the Margins (all info here, at the bottom of the page).

Please feel free to join us for the urban walk, but write to me ahead if you would like to do so!

Turin at the margins: A view from the bridge

Organisers: Michele Lancione and Elisabetta Rosa

Turin’s marginalised spaces and populations are numerous and nuanced. With this urban walk we aim to approach three of these spaces in order to sense their complexity and invite further explorations and reflections. Conscious of the limits of such exercise, and out of respect for the people that perform spaces, our walk will be centered around two/three bridges that – metaphorically and infrastructurally – connects mainstream Turin to its margins. The first bridge is the Passerella Olimpica, where we will hear the story of the refugees that are currently occupying the ex Olympic Village. The second bridge is the Ponte Carparini, in the Porta Palazzo area, where we will discuss about homelessness and services for homeless people in Turin. The third bridge is on the other side of the city, in the Lungo Stura Lazio’s area (Ponte Amedeo VIII, where we will approach the story of the Roma people living on the river’s banks. This walk is connected to the presentation of the book ‘Rethinking Life at the Margins’, which will be launched at the ‘Via Baltea’ centre in the evening.

At the following link you can find more info and additional material: Turin and its margins_Urban Walk_EURA 2016

EURA 2016 in Turin – Committed Positioning and Urban Ethnography


Please find below a CFP for the forthcoming EURA conference ‘City lights. ​Cities and citizens within/beyond/notwithstanding the crisis’, Turin (Italy), 16-18 June 2016 (

500-word abstracts should include title, keywords, name of the author(s), affiliation and full contact details, and should be sent to both Michele Lancione ( and Elisabetta Rosa ( no later than Thursday, 26 November.

A PDF of this CfP can be downloaded here.

Committed Positioning. Politics, activism and ethnographic encounters in the contemporary city.

Michele Lancione, University of Cambridge (
Elisabetta Rosa, Aix-Marseille University (

We enter the field and have not a clue about the people standing in front of us. We have read about them – the people and spaces we have decided to ‘study’ –, and perhaps we have met them previously, but now things have changed. Set down in the mists of the field, we are now faced with the possibility of encounter: things can go wrong; people may not understand us and we may not understand them, and ethnography may suddenly  cease to be an exciting exploration and turn into a painful and stressful endeavour. In its most basic form, positioning might be understood as the negotiation of this encounter: a fragile process characterised by unbalanced power, criss-crossed by all sorts of ethical implications. But at another, deeper level, positioning is first and foremost about questioning the meaning and relevance of that encounter. Namely: why have we decided to enter the field in the first place? Why have we done it here, with these people and spaces? Why, in other worlds, do we do ethnography and what do we aim to achieve with it?
These questions are anything but a novelty. In geography, they have been discussed for decades by scholars interested in bringing to light the responsibilities, meaning and potential associated with the ethnographic encounter (Caldeira 2009; Cloke et al. 2000; Herbert 2000). Positioning has thus been understood as matter of announcing oneself in the field (McDowell 1992); as a form of reflexivity (Cloke et al. 2000); as a matter of objectivity about the scope and limit of knowledge (Haraway 1988); as aiming to establish ‘constitutive negotiations’ (Rose 1997), and as a way to fictive distinction between ‘researcher’ and ‘researched’ (Butz and Besio 2009). Expanding these lines of thinking, scholars have advocated in favour of an action-oriented form of ethnography (Katz 1994), where the boundaries between activism and academia blur (Routledge 1996), and in favour of a research approach oriented towards the production of radical actions and outputs, through the use of creative methodologies as well (Eshun and Madge, 2012). Our Call for Papers sets out to explore the role of positioning in making ethnography more relevant to the people and spaces it studies. We argue that radical, engaged, meaningful ethnography does not come naturally, but arises out of what we might call a ‘committed’ form of positioning: a relational oeuvre that requires time, involvement and adaptation; that involves stress, joy and a psycho-emotional burden, but that most of all calls for a strong political ethos to fuel the action/research process (Lancione, forthcoming).
We are interested in exploring the link between positionality and urban ethnographic research/activism. We are looking for papers that freely and openly discuss the limits on and opportunities for pursuing political agendas through ethnographic work, questioning the role of positioning in doing so, and recounting (on the basis of first-hand experience as well) the personal difficulties encountered in making urban ethnography matter. We welcome in particular interdisciplinary, creative and non-academic contributions, as well as contributions from under-represented groups. Abstracts should cover one or more of the following points:

  • The intersection between positioning and urban politics
  • The intersection between positioning and activism/research
  • Theory of positionality in – and from – the urban South
  • Theory of positionality in – and from – gender studies
  • Radical urban ethnography – and radical urban ethnographers – today
  • What kind of methodology for what kind of positioning?
  • The physical, emotional and psychological burden of committed positioning
  • Case studies showing details (limits and achievements) of committed positioning

500-word abstracts should include title, keywords, name of the author(s), affiliation and full contact details, and should be sent to both Michele ( and Elisabetta ( no later than Thursday, 26 November.