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Dr Giovanni Picker (University of Glasgow) - Urban Planning and Race in 21st-century Europe: Discussing Distinctiveness and Possible Research Venues - Research Factory B/ORDERS IN MOTION

19.07.2023 16:15

19.07.2023 17:45

HG 109

Urban Planning and Race in 21st-century Europe: Discussing Distinctiveness and Possible Research Venues - Dr. Giovanni Picker


Global Social Sciences conversations on cities typically differentiate between the global North and the global South. One of the main criteria of differentiation is the presence of (post)colonial legacies, or continuities exclusively in Southern and settler-colonial cities. My talk questions this exclusivity and offers a line of reflection to think of variable postcolonial entanglements in cities of the former metropole, i.e. Western Europe, as a contribution to enlarge and refine our global urban knowledge. Drawing on a field-based study of a participatory planning initiative in 2010s Berlin that addressed the "problem" of "drug dealing", the paper outlines the ways in which an "affective economy" (Ahmed) of dread functioned as a cover-up for race to be (and remain) the rationale of the planning initiative. The effectiveness of such an "economy" was predicated upon a counterintuitive, joint mobilization of the two key cultural archives in continental Europe -- the anti-Black (colonial) and the anti-Jewish (Nazi/Fascist). As I show, such a counterintuitive combination, by virtue of disrupting conventional understandings whereby anti-Blackness be exclusively rooted in colonial archives, allows the planning initiative to secure for itself both full state support and local residents' full legitimation. In the conclusion I propose a key distinction between postcolonial and settler colonial cities on one hand, and continental (Western) European cities on the other: while the former are structured by racial conceptions which draw on colonial legacies only (e.g. colonial planning, colonial trade, racial segregation, redlining, native and aboriginal containment, etc), the latter may be seen as structured by more unfamiliar combinations of colonial and Nazi/Fascist conceptions, counterintuitively articulated in ways which contribute to render it difficult to empirically disclose the structuring operation of race in this part of the world.


Die Veranstaltung ist nur offen für Mitglieder der Europa-Universität Viadrina



Dr. Giovanni Picker is currently a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Sociology of Inequalities. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Comparative Urban Studies from Milan-Bicocca University (2009), and a B.A. + M.A. (Laurea) in Political Sciences and Cultural Sociology from the State University of Milan (2004).

He does research, teaches and writes in the Social Sciences. His work on nationalism, race, and cities extended across Europe (Kosovo, Romania, Italy, the UK, France and Germany). In 2017, he published Racial Cities: Governance and the Segregation of Romani People in Urban Europe, a multi-focal ethnographic book which bridges Race Critical Theories and Urban Studies from a global and historical perspective, to explain the post-WWII emergence and persistence of deprived and segregated urban areas across Europe that are stigmatized as "Gypsy urban areas". He then co-curated a series of thematic collections on the relationships between urban spaces, the state and everyday forms of domination, always with a view of critically enlarging both the theoretical horizon and the typically West-oriented empirical focus. He currently is co-editing a volume and writing a monograph, both aimed at understanding, from multiple perspectives, European urbanism as a constitutive part of the global history of race.

He is active in international research and education projects, including the Summer School on Black Europe that takes place every year at IIRE (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).