The future of urban epistemic, event @Urban Institute, Sheffield

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s event at the Urban Institute in Sheffield.

The brilliant Beth Perry will speak on Co-production and the Future of Urban Epistemics, with responses by Linda Westman, Aïcha Diallo & myself.

This is part of the “Sheffield urbanism” lectures series (

December 14th, 3pm GMT, free online attendance by registering at:

A little news…

A little news decided in early 2020 but effective as of 1/21…
I am now full Professor/Chair in Urban Studies (Professore Ordinario in Studi Urbani) at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield. Keep me in check for a wilder ride, for how I’ll exploit this position, for the collectivities I am indebted to & future ones.
There are too many to thanks – Francesca Governa sent me to do my PhD at the Geography Department at Durham Uni, where Ash Amin and Joe Painter started being my supervisors in 2008. There, I have learnt a lot from many, including the wonderful Colin McFarlane. I then moved to UTS in Sydney in 2011 (Stewart Clegg and his great bunch there!!), post-doc in Cambridge thanks to the Urban Studies Foundation in 2013 (sharing much with the great Tatiana Thieme and Esztiki Kovacs) and then a brief experience as lecturer in Geography at Cardiff in 2016. Thanks to all the ones I’ve encountered in this journey. At Sheffield I met so much support and so many wonderful people I can’t really thank them all here. It has been really a transformative place for me to be in. I will be forever in-debt with the support I received from John Flint and Ryan Powell, among many others, and most of all for the ones taken from my brother, friend and wild teacher AbdouMaliq Simone. Thank you, Maliq. And a huge thanks also to my USP colleagues, and in particular to that crazy bunch at the Urban Institute. Thank you, Simon Marvin, Beth Perry, Vanesa Castan Broto, Jonathan SIlver, Aidan While, for making it collective.
A massive thanks goes also to ‘my’ PhD students, Stephanie Lacey, Martyna Piliszewska, Sri Suryani, Francesca Guarino, Victoria Ogọegbunam Okoye, Eirini Glynou-Lefaki for teaching me so much and to Rowland Atkinson, Ryan Powell, Paula Meth and Alberto Vanolo for teaching me how to supervise! I also want to thank the AMAZING community of ECRs in Urban Studies we set up at Sheffield: too many, too strong, to mention you all. But what we achieved there, in terms of horizontal solidarities across post-docs is really important, so thank you for that.
There are collectives I shared pickets with, others inspired a journey (Institute on Inequality and Democracy), some I spent so much love to set up (Radical Housing Journal) or revamp (City – Analysis of Urban Change, Theory and Action) or live through streets (Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire) — thank you, Nicoleta Visan, Veda Popovici, Ioana Florea & many more) —
— These are the reasons to continue.
Finally, 2020 has been a year of much family loss and pain. I am blessed, in my every day, to have Leo with me. In 2021 there will be changes, to stay closer to my sis and to life, to open new errands. I’ll keep on reminding myself of the privilege I have —
— Avanti!

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:

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



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.



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 workshop series: The Urban Human – Conundrums and Interstices

The Urban Human and the Life at the Margins research themes at the Urban Institute are launching a series of internal workshop on ‘The Urban Human: Conundrum and Interstices’. The series is aimed at scholars within the University of Sheffield interested in exploring a number of concerns on urbanity, affects and race.


Facilitators: AbdouMaliq Simone and Michele Lancione


The program includes five meetings:

    1. Urban Lexicons, 19/2/19, 12-2pm, ICOSS boardroom
    2. The Ambivalent Generativity of Blackness, 19/3/19, 12-2pm, ICOSS boardroom,
    3. Urban Affect, 23/4/19, 12-2pm, ICOSS boardroom
    4. The (A)Climatic Human, 21/5/19, 12-2pm, ICOSS boardroom
    5. The Propositional Politics of Wasted Lives, 18/6/19, 12-2pm, ICOSS boardroom



To subscribe, please complete the following form:  



Urbanization and humanity as geological force have purportedly attained planetary dimensions, and in this totalizing subsumption of the planet to a narrow band of powers, poses the possibility of extinction. Whereas urban and human could reiterate the other, their present complicity threatens to cancel the other’s existence. Urban life now demonstrates the capacity to make use of anything: to fold the death of bodies into calculable assets, to manage its perennial deviancies through the myth of crisis and emergency, to govern life not as the cultivation of aggregate populations but through multiplying the number of dimensions possibile in the confines of individual distributions – where a single body operates as the scenegraphy of infinite intersections, and to the rendering of flebile desire for life in the calculus of financialised assets.

In the uban human nothing seems to remain of a species in common. For, even the supposed commonality of the ‘human’ was predicated on those dispossed of any eligibility for being human. It is within the reproduction of deviancy through defining apparatuses scattered across the urban field – being those of bureaucratic, intellectual, charitable and arithmetic nature – that the other is maintain as the fundament of the good common life. The black body, the home-less body, are the ground upon which the the storytelling of the urban human is maintained. Just as urbanization is an ongoing story – of articulation, density, contiguity, and absence – it is the concrete underpinning, the infrastructure of this particular storytelling that is the  “nature” of being (urban) human.

So to what extent is cancelling of the urban and the human both catastrophe and liberation? If the urban operates with the capacity to make valuable the intensive particularization of things on the basis of its undeserving bodies, how might it operate as a field of experimental gatherings and provisional sutures? What if the answer does not rely upon a compromised politics of rights and humanitarianism, but instead requires the sabotage of the coherence of a specific subject/object? What if the human was approached as a polyrhythmic constellation of simultaneous stories not judged according to any criteria, but constantly crisscrossing bodies, technics, machines, landscapes and disciplines?

Workshop One

Urban Lexicons

What does it mean to look at the urban human from the problem of how subjectivities are (re)produced in an entanglement of post-human affect? Urban theory is moving beyond the remit of its disciplinary safegrounds. A new grammar to explore forces and rhythms is emerging, which can help us navigate the uncertain terrain of the urban human.

  • Ash Amin (2015) Animated space. Public Culture 27.2, 239–258
  • De Boeck, F. (2015) “Divining” the city: rhythm, amalgamation and knotting as forms of “urbanity”. Social Dynamics 41.1, 47–58.
  • Morten Nielsen (2014) A Wedge of Time. Futures in the Present and Presents without Futures in Maputo Mozambique. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20, 166–182
  • Stengers, I. (2005) The Cosmopolitical Proposal. In Latour, B. and P. Weibel (eds.),
    Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Workshop Two

The Ambivalent Generativity of Blackness

If blackness is simultaneously at the margins of human life – that which is depended upon in order to consolidate the human as a particular privileged set of bodies and capacities- – and the platform through which a new genre of human life is imaginable, what is to be made of blackness as a force of urbanization?

  • Fred Moten (2013) The Subprime and the beautiful, African Identities, 11:2, 237-245
  • Saidiya Hartman (2018) The Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner. South Atlantic Quarterly, 117 (3): 465–490
  • Paul Gilroy (2018) “Where every breeze speaks of courage and liberty”: Offshore Humanism and Marine Xenology, or, Racism and the Problem of Critique at Sea Level. Antipode 50: 3-22

Workshop Three

Urban Affect

In the media saturated worlds of the urban, where the digital, parametric, and algorithmic become the predominant realities through which to understand how human life is articulated to “its” worlds, and where relationalities exceed the capacity of human cognition to register them, what does it mean to “feel” the urban? What role does affect and sensibility play in such an environment?

  • Brian Massumi (2017) Collective Expression. In The Principle of Unrest. Open Humanities Press.
  • Patricia Clough (2018) The User Unconscious: On Affect, Media, and Measure. University of Minnesota Press
  • Kathleen Stewart (2007) Ordinary Affects. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

Workshop Four

The (A)Climatic Human

If the “promises” of urbanization as an assemblage of judicious intersections amongst all things is betrayed by the constitution of the “human” as a geological force and the intensive fragmentation/particularization of human life through spatial segregation–what remains?, what is the human “in-between” these disjointed positions?

  • Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook (2017) Vortices: On “Critical  Climate Change” as a Project. South Atlantic Quarterly 116 (1): 129-143.
  • Arturo Escobar (2016) Thinking/Feeling with the Earth: Territorial Struggles and the Ontological Dimension of the Epistemologies of the South. Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana 11: 11-32.
  • Elizabeth Povinelli (2015) The Rhetorics of Recognition in Geontopower. Philosophy & Rhetoric 48:4, 428-442.

Workshop Five

The Propositional Politics of Wasted Lives

In contemporary urban conditions, what does it mean to point to wasted life or dispossession? Within the urban, is anything really wasted, and what or whose judgment can ever determine this? And what kind of urban political emerges when one engages with the interstices of wasted lives?

  • Judith Butler (2011) Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street. Transversal 1–15.
  • Didier Fassin (2012) Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present.  University of California Press, Part One.
  • Neferti X.M. Tadiar (2013) Life-times of disposability within global neoliberalism. Social Text 31:19–48.
  • Ursula K. LeGuin (1974) The Dispossessed, Gateway
  • Sandro Mezzadra and Bred Neilson (2013) Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor. Duke University Press, Durham, NC