International Urban Symposium-IUS & Brunel University


Urbanity: Empirical Reflections 

Brunel University, Uxbridge London, Saturday 19 May 2018

Convenors: Giuliana B. Prato, Italo Pardo, Gary Armstrong

‘Urbanity’ refers not only to a specific form of life, aspects of urban policy, sociological demands or political changes, but also to intercultural relations in the complexity and heterogeneity of urban life. Urban settings are undoubtedly places where cultural, social, economic and ethnic coexistence can be explored. There, the political aspect of difference becomes visible.

Urbanity can adopt many different forms according to the city’s historical, social, cultural and political trajectory. To address urbanity, we need to look at the changing nature of social interactions, and its effects on the structuring of political and economic spaces. We need to look at how urban dwellers encounter others and how they distance themselves from others – creating social spaces of and for themselves

By definition, cities have always hosted heterogeneity, open-endedness, broadness, lack of prejudices and self-criticism. However, contemporary experiences of urbanity ask us to reflect on a key issue that is becoming ever more pressing, politically, socially and economically⸺therefore, analytically. Specifically, tolerance of the other may translate into welcoming attitudes and social and economic exchanges. However, under certain conditions, tolerance turns into toleration. Then, heterogeneity gives rise to outbreaks of violence.

Urban settings can be seen as places of opportunity and danger. Typically, urbanites may talk of a particular place as ‘dangerous’ and of another as ‘safe’, giving reasons based on their own experience or that of others. Examples abound of how these perceptions of urbanity have been seized upon to implement policies that challenge fundamental democratic principles and rights of citizenship.

During this invitation-only meeting 14 scholars addressed the above issues with specific reference to:

  • Ethnographies of urban ethos;
  • Variations of citizenship;
  • Otherness, cooperation and conflict in multi-ethnic urban settings;
  • Security and democratic freedoms.

Giuliana B. Prato (University of Kent, U.K.), The Janus-faced City: A Middle-ground of Challenges and Opportunities.
Andrea Boscoboinik (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Urbanising Nature: An  Outcome of Life-style Migration in the Mountains
Gary Armstrong (Brunel University, U.K.) and James Rosbrook-Thompson (Anglia Ruskin University, U.K.), Fuelling the Problem: Police Understandings of Lithuanian Crime in East London.
Max Maidano (Brunel University, U.K.), Široki Brijeg: The Croat Citadel and Its Football Club.
Seweryn Dmowski, (University of Warsaw, Poland), Urbanity in Warsaw: The Rivalry Between the Legia and Polonia Football Clubs.
Margarida Fernandes (Nova University, Lisbon, Portugal), ‘Problematic’? Where is the problem? Racism, segregation and discrimination in the daily discourse
Michel Rautenberg, Pascal Vallet and Catherine Gauthier (University of Saint-Etienne, France), Discrimination, sense of insecurity, and social imagination. The case of 2d and of the 3d generation Algerian migrants in Saint-Etienne, France
Vytis Ciubrinskas, (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania) Cultural Citizenship and Social Spaces of and for Themselves of Contemporary East European Immigrants in Chicago
Peter Jones (University of Leicester, U.K.), The Strange Case of Ann Copeland:Corruption in Belfast 1921-1968
Manos Spyridakis (University of the Peloponnese, Greece), Legitimizing Precariousness: The Pilot Case of the Minimum Guaranteed Income
Italo Pardo (University of Kent, U.K.), Making Second-class Citizens: An Anthropologist’s View of Action and Exchange in Urban Italy

A peer-reviewed edited collection of selected revised and expanded papers has been published in Ethnographies of Urbanity in Flux: Theoretical Reflections (edited by I. Pardo, G.B. Prato & J. Rosbrook-Thompson), special issue of Urbanities-Journal of Urban Ethnography, Vol.10 (Suppl. 3), 2020 https://www.anthrojournal-urbanities.com/vol-10-supplement-3-february-2020/)


Supported by International Urban Symposium-IUS

Organised by Institute of Sociological Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences; KREAS VP2WP3 ‘Adaptation in Historical Perspective’ research team and REACH project at the Institute of World History of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University; the Czech division of the UNESCO–MOST Program.


Diversity and Local Contexts: Adaptation and Heritage

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, 24 – 25 May 2018

Convenors: Luďa Klusáková, Zdeněk Uherek and Hana Červinková

This two-day workshop developed theoretical reflections based on empirical research on the relationship between urban heritage and cultural identities in their historical, geopolitical and socio-cultural dimensions and contexts. After Graham and Howard, we approach heritage as “the ways in which very selective past material artefacts, natural landscapes, mythologies, memories and traditions become cultural, political and economic resources for the present”. We recognize identities as ongoing processes of adaptation, which we understand as practices of positioning vis-à-vis global flows that intersect in urban hubs and involve the formation of diverse local views of belonging and being in the world. We focus on the contested and diverse terrains of identity and belonging in an effort to understand how hegemonic discourses become translated, used and challenged by communities and individuals in local settings.


Jerome Krase (City University of New York, USA), Italian Americans and Others in New York City: Interethnic Relations from the Field.
Italo Pardo (University of Kent, UK), Life in Naples: Between Beauty and Rubbish.
Giuliana B. Prato (University of Kent, UK), Brindisi Harbour: The Murder and Attempted Salvage of an Historical Crossroads.
Maria Mendel and Tomasz Szkudlarek (University of Gdańsk, PL), Heritage: Transformations of Hegemony and Public Pedagogy as Interruption.
Vojtěch Halama (Charles University, CZ), Re-imaging Communities: Transformation of Belfast Murals and Cultural Heritage in Northern Ireland.
Jaroslav Šotola and Mario Rodríguez Polo (Palacký University Olomouc, CZ), Oppressive Urban Landscape: Homogeneity, Memory and Migration in Central-Eastern Europe.
Zdeněk Uherek (Charles University, CZ), Discourse on Public Spaces in Prague and Selected Little Towns of the Czech Republic.
Luďa Klusáková (Charles University, CZ), The “New” Roles for Public Places in Small Towns: Bastides in South West of France Viewed from Central Europe.
Monika Baer (Wroclaw University, PL), “Wroclaw – the Meeting Place.” LGBT and Ways of Belonging to the Urban Environment.
Hana Cervinkova (University of Lower Silesia, PL), Heritage and Historical Politics in Wroclaw’s Urban Landscape.
Ondřej Daniel (Metropolitan University Prague, CZ), Between Hooligan Bars and Art District. Case of Gentrifying Prague 7.

The workshop and publications are supported by the IUS and by the KREAS and REACH projects.

International Urban Symposium & Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK 


Cities in Flux: Ethnographic and Theoretical Challenges

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK, 23-29 July 2018

Convenors:  Italo Pardo, Giuliana B. Prato, James Rosbrook-Thompson

The Participants in the School and Seminar. Left to right: Donna Carmichael, Mirna Guha, David Skinner, Ekaterina Ignatyeva, James Rosbrook-Thompsom, Giuliana B. Prato, Italo Pardo, Gary Armstrong, John Hanna, Hana Cervinkova, Karlina Moretti, Christoffer Berg, Will Brown, Karolina Plaskova, Debrapriya Chakrabarti, Michael Malzer, Gintare Kudzmaite, Ambreen Rubab, Marco Barisic, Jerome Krase.
The Participants in the School and Seminar. Left to right: Donna Carmichael, Mirna Guha, David Skinner, Ekaterina Ignatyeva, James Rosbrook-Thompsom, Giuliana B. Prato, Italo Pardo, Gary Armstrong, John Hanna, Hana Cervinkova, Karlina Moretti, Christoffer Berg, Will Brown, Karolina Plaskova, Debrapriya Chakrabarti, Michael Malzer, Gintare Kudzmaite, Ambreen Rubab, Marco Barisic, Jerome Krase.

With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, and this proportion set to increase to two-thirds by 2050, the ethnographic study of life in urban settings has never been so urgent and important. Urbanisation proceeding at such a pace has meant increases in the number and size of cities but also continues to alter the social fabric of urban centres, sometimes in profound ways. This five-day Summer School and two-day Seminar – organised and hosted by Anglia Ruskin University under the auspices of the International Urban Symposium (IUS) – brought together social anthropologists, sociologists, urban planners, architects, and human geographers committed to empirically-grounded analysis of cities in order to examine a number of pressing methodological and theoretical questions relating to urban change.

The Summer School encompassed lectures, seminars, field trips and social events across a range of topics including migration, identity and belonging, the impact of stereotype, gentrification, public space, and historical and global links. The primary aim of the School was to train students in the ‘art’ of conducting ethnographic fieldwork and developing analysis based on said ethnography. The School also instructed students on how to debate issues while seeking to understand and develop the link between ethnographically-based analysis and social theory. Teaching took place in three-hour blocks – one each morning and one each afternoon – with in-class work being supplemented by events such as structured city walks and field trips. The School was open to postgraduate and doctoral students, final-year undergraduate students as well as professionals and practitioners.

The Summer School culminated in a two-day Research Seminar that brought together colleagues who taught in the School and other interested scholars. As well as papers delivered by academics and practitioners on a range of issues relating to the theme of Cities in Flux, the Seminar gave students of the School the opportunity to deliver poster presentations that drew on their own work and on the work they conducted over the previous five days.


Saturday 28th July

PANEL ONE: Migration, Belonging and the Urban Visual Imaginary

Pardo and Giuliana B. Prato (University of Kent), Knowing the Urban Field: A Comparative Study of Movements of People in Europe
Jerome Krase (Brooklyn College, City University of New York), Seeing the Image of the City Change, Again
Hana Cervinkova (University of Lower Silesia, Wrocław, Poland) and Juliet D. Golden (University of Lower Silesia, Wrocław, Poland), Contested Urban Heritage: The Politics of Remembering and Belonging in Poland’s Haunted Lands

 PANEL TWO: Space, Gender and (In)formality

Karolina Moretti (National Technical University of Athens), The Formal, the Semi-Formal and the Informal: The Case of Dortmund
Mirna Guha (Anglia Ruskin University). “If we don’t wear sarees, the para boys will kill us”: Space, gender norms, and ‘respectability’ politics in the lives of female sex workers in a red-light area in Eastern India.

PANEL THREE: Policing, Crime and Racialization

David Skinner (Anglia Ruskin University), The Wrong Faces in the Wrong Places: The Reinvention of Race in New Policing Technologies
Gary Armstrong (City, University of London) and James Rosbrook-Thompson (Anglia Ruskin University), On Road Trips: Combatting ‘County Lines’ in Essex

Sunday 29th July
SESSION ONE: Student presentations
SESSION TWO: Roundtable discussion and publication plans

A peer-reviewed edited collection of selected revised and expanded papers has been published in Ethnographies of Urbanity in Flux: Theoretical Reflections (edited by I. pardo, G.B. Prato & J. Rosbrook-Thompson), special issue of Urbanities-Journal of Urban Ethnography, Vol.10 (Suppl. 3), 2020 https://www.anthrojournal-urbanities.com/vol-10-supplement-3-february-2020/).