no. 68, July 2024


Edited by Nicolò Molinari and Andrea Pavoni


A loop is a material process, a fold that is made of something, like a rope, or by something, like a river, or an airplane. While its recursive movement could be understood as a circular, the loop does only approximate the circle’s abstract form: there is always something that overflows in the embodied process of looping, a twisted residue that is preserved in some of its informal meanings, such as looped (drunk) or loopy (crazy). In fact, loop’s overflow is also the secret of its generative quality: every loop is a repetitive process that is productive of a quantum of difference, a surplus that keeps feeding back into a spiralling and unpredictable becoming.

The ambiguity that surrounds the relation between circle and loop can be found in the relation between urbanisation and circulation. The circle and the city have a longstanding bond, from the Etruscan and Roman ritual practice to plot a furrow around the settlement upon the foundation, to the circular plans of classic utopias, all the way to the imaginary feeding planetary urbanisation, where the logistical dream of smooth circulation – of goods, people, information, energy, and capital – is forced to recursively negotiate with the unavoidable frictions, bottlenecks, and overflows that its reality undergoes, including the acts of sabotage, resistance, and disruption that compose so-called circulation struggles.

In fact, the question of excess, overflow or surplus is the question articulating the relation between circular imaginary and looping materialisation. In political economy, capitalism relies on the capacity to feed back the surplus of its own operations into an ever expanded circulation. In cybernetic, the feedback loop is a mechanism aimed at reducing the gap between expected and actual results by reintegrating the noise within the system. In the smart city imaginary this is translated into a dream vision of a city where everything works smoothly via an endless, automated feedback loop between urbanites and technology.

Contrary to this promise of adaptation and resilience, a concept like ‘back loop’ points to a movement that does not feed back onto the system but opens to other lines of development, experimentation, and valorisation. At the same time, as expressions such as ‘going around in circles’ or ‘running in circles’ seem to indicate, looping can also belong to an inoperose dimension of idleness, laziness, unproductivity: just going around, or loitering, the criminalisation of which, especially in the USA, indirectly points, again, to an excessive surplus that is hardly compatible with the normative requirements of social order.

Albeit very different among them, a similar argument could be made for instances in which loop’s apparently pointless repetition is able to generate a difference that has often clashed with the repressive requirements of social control. One may think about the trance-inducing loop of Sufi dervishes, persecuted over the course of centuries in the Muslim world; the use of loops in electronic music, that has always been particularly controversial in the context of rave party and their repression, at its most explicit in the notorious UK Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994; or the ‘donuts’ performed by cars at illegal takeovers or sideshows.

From the history of roundabouts to the promise and danger of AI-powered cities, from loitering to raving, from Chicago’s The Loop neighbourhood – that Ernest Burgess’ iconic concentric diagram transformed into a longstanding framework of urban studies – to the logistic, cultural and socio-economical role played by encircling roads in major cities (e.g. the London Orbital, The Rome’s GRA, etc.), from circulatory dreams to circulation struggles, there are many angles from which the concept of loop and the process and practice of looping can be speculated about and engaged with, focusing on its representation, aesthetics, performativity, normativity, corporality, and so on: in this issue of lo Squaderno we invite a broad range of contributions willing to experiment on these possibilities from various disciplines, including but not limited to urban geography, social theory, cultural studies, music, science and technology studies, literary studies, history, etc.


|Deadline for Abstracts: include a brief description outlining how your submission addresses themes outlined in the call for papers. The abstract should be no more than 300 words. | 15 February 2024

| Notification of acceptance | 29 February 2024

| Final submission deadline | 15 April 2024

| Articles’ length | 2,000 words

| Submit to | losquaderno≤at≥gmail≤.≥com

| Information about the Journal |

| Information about the Editorial Process + Author’s Submission Checklist |