no. 59, July 2021

Beyond urban violence

Edited by Simone Tulumello and Andrea Pavoni


Not many topics have received the amount of (academic, cultural, political) attention that urban violence has had. In a way, the modern and contemporary discourse about ‘the city’ has always been one about violence, that of urban inhabitants, environments, socio-economical inequalities, and cultures, all the way from 19th century reflections on the nascent urban modernity to 21st discussions on planetary urbanisation. Yet, reflection on what urban violence may actually be has been for the most part lacking. In other words, the urban in urban violence has for the most part played the part of a mere adjective, with the task of individuating the location where a given instance of violence takes place: namely, the city. At the bottom, this is due to a certain difficulty in linking the city (the physical locus) with the urban (the process, the culture, the atmosphere, etc.), as well as with a certain tendency to understand violence as a strictly physical event.

Lately, various reflections on violence have provided a more complex understanding of its multifaceted dimensions, with a host of more or less useful definitions (e.g. structural, slow, silent, cultural, etc.). How could we employ these new lenses to develop an understanding of urban violence that, rather than simply indicating instances of violence occurring in the city, would have an epistemological and strategic value to think the relation between violence and the urban?

In this issue of lo Squaderno, we look forward to collect short, imaginative essays – be they based on empirical or theoretical development – that can help us see ‘beyond’ the unseen of urban violence, and to devise ways of theorising, imagining and defining urban violence which would account for its specific, qualitative peculiarity. We invite to take to challenge by moving beyond the legalistic and criminological understandings of violence and the trivial understanding of the urban, looking at dimensions including, but not limited to:

  • the regimes of normativity (Feltran 2020) that shape crime and violence
  • the everyday dimension and experience of urban violence (Rodgers, 2016)
  • the imaginaries that shape the perception and experience of a given city, neighbourhood or urban place as ‘violent’ and (dis)orderly
  • the lived atmospheres of urban violence
  • the way urban violence is represented and (re)produced in art and fiction
  • violence and the state: urban safety and security



Feltran G (2020) The entangled city. Crime as urban fabric in São Paulo. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rodgers D (2016) Critique of urban violence: Bismarckian transformations in contemporary Nicaragua. Theory, Culture & Society 33(7-8): 85-109.


| Deadline | 30 March 2021

| Articles’ length | 2,000 words


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