Marginal urbanities. The hidden face of planetary urbanisation / Call for paper

La Paz, Bolivia, photo © Alberto Canepa
La Paz, Bolivia, photo © Alberto Canepa

Academy of Architecture

17 January 2023

Call for paper for the symposium

Marginal urbanities. The hidden face of planetary urbanisation
Monday 10 July 2023
USI Accademia di architettura
Mendrisio, Switzerland


There is no need to resort to old cartographic binomials to describe the contemporary territory. In particular, the city-countryside pair shows all its limitations in describing the production of today's space. Although intuitively comprehensible, these terms are in fact polysemous and inaccurate (Angelo, 2017). This cartographic crisis calls for a rethink based on new criteria and categories. The planetary urbanisation hypothesis (Brenner & Schmid, 2015; Schmid & Brenner, 2011) responds to this challenge by emphasising, in close proximity to the assessments of political ecology and urban political ecology, the way in which different territories contribute to the maintenance of the global urban structure. This perspective is part of a trend that attempts to overcome paternalist, normative and Eurocentric paradigms. Today it is possible to discover the urban by talking about territories, processes and phenomena that occur in what would once have been excluded from the study of cities (Brenner, 2018; Reddy, 2018). Thanks to the introduction of these externalities, contemporary urban analysis can develop creative tools and interdisciplinary hybridities.

This symposium is interested precisely in these non-centralities that today are becoming one of the main assets of urban analysis. The aim of the event is to propose a series of heterogeneous interventions that can enrich contemporary urban analysis from original and innovative perspectives. The focus will be on case studies of marginal places and groups, as well as on innovative and original perspectives and modes of analysis that are able to enrich urban studies by reintegrating the externalities of the urban system that have long been ignored. We welcome contributions that highlight important aspects of contemporary urban society in an innovative way. In particular, we favour critical, interdisciplinary theoretical approaches and the presentation of concrete case studies from which wider lessons can be drawn.

Examples may include but are not limited to:

  • marginal communities and the right to the city;
  • peculiar places from which to observe urban processes;
  • political and social phenomena reinterpreted as urban dynamics.

The symposium includes sessions with 4 presentations each (15 min per presentation followed by 5 min of discussion, and 10 min of collective discussion at the end of each session). Proposals for original formats beyond this traditional structure are also encouraged.


Abstracts of 1500-2000 characters must be sent to
[email protected] by 05.02.2023.

For ecological reasons, the event will be organised in hybrid mode to favour the participation of those who cannot reach Mendrisio by train. A small financial support for those arriving from abroad can be arranged if needed.