New seminar series: Dwelling in Liminalities

The Life at the Margins and Urban Human research group at the Urban Institute invite you to our new seminar series, “Dwelling in Liminalities: Uncanny conversations”, which I am organising with my colleague AbdouMaliq Simone.

The series will start in Spring 2020, and will include 5 seminars with ten scholars coming from Geography, Visual Studies, Sociology and Anthropology Departments from both sides of the Atlantic. This amazing – and uncanny! – cohort of people will come to Sheffield to discuss with us around issues of marginality, urban entanglements, race, hustling methodologies, techno-imperialism and more.

You can find the program below as well as here: http://urbaninstitute.group.shef.ac.uk/dwelling-in-liminalities-uncanny-conversations/

Please feel free to distribute the news around, and of course feel free to join us when the time comes!


 

PRECIS

What is the meaning of dwelling in liminalities? In urban times when life becomes reconfigured by all sorts of densities and calculations, new and old forms of liminalities intersect to produce spaces of inhabitation that encompass traditional notions of margins, exclusions or expulsions. These processes become reconfigured in the larger restructuring of what urban life is and means in today’s machinic cities.

We have invited scholars working through a number of critical approaches, and we have asked them to provide their reading of the economies of inhabitation in uninhabitable times. What is the political in rethinking life through the liminal assemblage of the urban?

This emerging conversation will cut across geographies and fields of enquiry to provide an orientation to our collective critical labour.

 

PROGRAM

On hustling, density and tracing

with Tatiana Thieme (UCL) and Colin McFarlane (Durham)
Wednesday, 5th February, 2020
3-5PM, ICOSS Boardroom (Portobello St)

On pathology, sounds and the black radical tradition

with Dhanveer Singh Brar and Ramon Amaro (Goldsmiths)
Wednesday, 4th March, 2020
3-5PM, ICOSS Boardroom (Portobello St)

On bordering 

with Suzi Hall (LSE) and Antonis Vradis (Loughborough)
Wednesday, 1st April, 2020
3-5PM, Geography Building, Teaching Room 2 (Winter St)

On techno-imperialism, race and the value of life

with Erin McElroy (NYU) and Andrea Gibbons (Solford)
Wednesday, 20th May, 2020
3-5PM, Geography Building, Teaching Room 2 (Winter St)

Of past lives and displacement

with Caroline Bressey (UCL) and Katherine Brickell (RHol)
Wednesday, 3rd June, 2020
3-5PM, ICOSS Boardroom  (Portobello St)

New paper in Transactions: Racialised dissatisfaction and homeless management

Picture by Eleonora Leo Mignoli
Picture by Eleonora Leo Mignoli

It took me a long time but finally is here… my Transactions’ paper on how homeless people negotiate their differences at the margins. The paper shows how the management of the urban poor carries effects on the ways homeless people encounter and negotiate their cultural, societal and ethnic differences. It does so providing a post-human and affect-oriented understanding of the assemblage of difference, which means, in other words, that small urban devices, discourses and atmospheres play a pivotal role in the emergence of positive and negative encounters. The paper introduces the notion of ‘racialised dissatisfaction’ to show how racialised encounters among homeless people can be negatively mediated by services made of precarious material artifacts, normative blueprint to action and negatively charged affective atmospheres. The paper provides also evidence on how less normative and more empowering services are able to trigger positive a-racialised encounters among the homeless people I have encountered. In this regard the theory and ethnography behind this paper can inform the challenges that European cities are facing today: a positive politics of difference passes through the material and affective ways cities will welcome, or not welcome, their most marginalised populations.

I am thankful to many people that made this paper possible. To Ash Amin and Francesca Governa, for their constant support and mentorship, to Transactions for feedback and support, and to many others – including Jonny Darling and Colin McFarlane – for their encouragements. Below you can read the abstract, while the paper can be downloaded on this website, on academia.edu and on Transactions’ website.

Racialised dissatisfaction: homelessness management and the everyday assemblage of difference

Faced with increased waves of refugees, economic migrants and internal vulnerable groups, the challenge for the contemporary European city is to welcome, assist and manage these populations in ways capable of fostering a positive and productive articulation of difference. The paper tackles this issue by investigating the ways in which difference is perceived, negotiated and performed among Italian and migrant homeless people in Turin, Italy. Through the presentation of detailed ethnographic material, the paper proposes a processual and affective take on the everyday assemblage of race and it questions the role of normative spaces in its making. The notion of racialised dissatisfaction is advanced in this sense, signalling how street-level racism among the homeless poor is deeply connected to the broader machinery of homelessness management and the material and affective components of life on the street. Despite its contextualised ethnographic nature, the paper offers insights that encompass the analysed case and advance our theoretical and empirical understanding of everyday life at the urban margins.

Malcolm X by Manning Marable

Marable, M. (2011). Malcom X. A life of reinvention. London: Allen Lane.

“Malcolm X. A Life of reinvention” is not only a book. It’s a journey, where many roads intersect. Two are more relevant than others. We have Malcolm’s life, of course – a life for the first time spurred of mystifications and apologetic accounts, rendered vivid in its strength and drama, unfolded in its human complexity. But I do not want to enter into this here (talented others have already done so – see for instance Amiri Baraka, here). Rather, I just want to indulge a moment on the second path, that of a scholar who spent 20 years of his life working on this astonishing book. While reading it I thought to contact this scholar. It would have been good, I thought, to tell him how much I was appreciating his work. Then I found out – lying on the sofa while googling with my phone – that he died just a few weeks after the book’s publication. One of the most touching pages of his work it’s secreted in the appendix, where the author thanks all the women and men whom helped him with his illness, his family, friends and wife. But, most importantly, where he thanks “the real Malcolm X, the man behind the myth, who courageously challenged and transformed himself, seeking to achieve a vision of a world without racism” (Marable, 2011, p.493).

From this point in the web, this unchecked and not-fully-expressed knot, I would like to thank Manning Marable, the man, the scholar. For the inspiration. The time. And his belief in research, which travels beyond a mere human death.

Marable, M. (2011). Malcolm X. A life of reinvention. London: Allen Lane.