By moving the urban peripheries to the centre of academic interest, the panel proposes the development of new anthropological perspectives on contemporary urbanity which do not only take into account urban margins, but reformulate the city from its margins.
Cities have become increasingly divided. The inhabitants of poor neighbourhoods like the banlieues in Paris or Moleenbek in Brussels, and many urban dwellers and spaces in cities across the Global North and South become constructed in powerful discourses as deviations and aberrations from the city centres, which are conceived as the norm. The panel starts from the presumption that urban inhabitants living at the social, political and/or spatial margins of cities are not negligible minorities, but rather constitutive for the city and urban society as a whole. Urban anthropology has a long, important tradition of zooming into small-scale urban milieus and neighbourhoods. What is still rare, though, is the courage of anthropologists to let their cases speak to the urban in general and the city at large. We invite papers which provide empirically grounded accounts of urban margins in cities across the globe, as well as theoretical reflections on how this shift in perspective from the centre to the urban margins may contribute to decentre hegemonic knowledge about cities and the urban. The papers may focus on agency and urban practices which produce or contest processes of exclusion and marginalisation, for example from the perspective of elderly inhabitants, women, migrants and/or refugees. We are also interested in papers that address how the urban margin-centre relation may become reconstituted by urban practices appropriating virtual spaces. We invite applicants to rethink in their papers the city from its margins, based on new, nuanced and differentiated perspectives of the urban.