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Accepted Paper:

Insurgent suburbia: inventive city-making in unexpected places  
Elisa Lanari (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes how "insurgent" forms of city-making can emerge at the heart of wealthy suburban peripheries. By comparing examples from the U.S. and Italy, I reflect on how abandoned spaces and infrastructures become imbricated in the making of alternative urban and anthropological futures.

Paper long abstract:

Urban anthropologists have pointed to auto-constructed peripheries and informal urban settlements as sites where dispossessed urban dwellers craft new, often provisional citizenship claims. In this paper, I shift the focus of these analyses to wealthy suburban enclaves, speculating on the "insurgent" forms of city-making (Holston 2009) that emerge in and through their spaces. My examples are drawn from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two different peripheries: a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia (USA), and a small postindustrial town in Italy's northeastern Veneto region. I begin by provocatively stressing the similarities between these two places—discussing how overdevelopment and a booming regional economy have made them into emblems of middle class affluence. Historically dominated by right-wing politics, these communities have responded to the arrival of migrants and poor minorities through the progressive securitization of public spaces and neighborhoods (Gledhill 2018). And yet alternative forms of city-making have begun to emerge through the cracks open in these exclusionary projects. In Atlanta, Latinx immigrants have been repurposing the leftover spaces of suburban sprawl—gas stations, abandoned parking lots, incomplete sidewalks—through the rhythms of their neighborly care, walking practices, and informal business transactions (Lefebvre 2004). In Veneto's urban outskirts, activists and migrants are reclaiming public infrastructures and dismissed postindustrial sites through practices of commoning and urban farming (Casas-Cortés et al. 2014). I conclude by suggesting how anthropologists could engage with abandoned spaces and infrastructures to generate new forms of knowledge in and about the city and its "insurgent" peripheries.

Panel P011
Peripheral Speculations in the City [Colleex network]
  Session 1 Friday 24 July, 2020, -