The secret life of urban margins

(Un)released and (in)formal relations between borders and urban margins peopled by Romanì communities


  • Maria Fierro Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy


In the planetary urban system in which we live, cities are shaped as points of accumulation, generating spatiality in relation to otherness. With the effects of globalisation, whereby the city-world and the world-city take shape (Augé 2007), it is possible to “observe” a proliferation of urban and social marginalities. This paper aims to explore a specific marginality, that of the Romanì population, which partially represents the arising in Europe of the planetary phenomenon of the outcasts (Careri and Romito 2016, 80) and experiences the encampment reality. This latter consists of two spatial configurations – the informal settlement and the encampment – that transpose the concept of margin and border in different ways; the former appears self-constructed and dynamic in which abilities can be observed in being able to use areas on the border with the established order, while the latter is fixed and imposed as a control device. And it is precisely the marginal urban spaces that accommodate these roughly transitional settlements that often activate paradoxical mechanisms of city-making. The camp becomes settlement, and the settlement becomes city, giving an unprecedented reinterpretation of the present conditions.

Both lead to the configuration of urban realities similar to the slums of the global south explored by the majority of scientific literature and from which the global north is not exempt. Within the theoretical horizon of the open and multicultural city and of informal urbanism – which considers the slum as a spatial concept useful to conceive new design paradigms (Brillembourg) – we propose an interpretation, part of a doctoral research in progress, on the character of the urban margins, in order to reimagine them as a place for experimentation and for overcoming the dichotomies that dominate both the contemporary debate and urban realities


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How to Cite

Fierro, M. (2023). The secret life of urban margins: (Un)released and (in)formal relations between borders and urban margins peopled by Romanì communities . UOU Scientific Journal, (05). Retrieved from