New book

Less than a month ago I had the pleasure to complete yet another collaboration with Ralf Brand from the University of Manchester. We submitted the manuscript for our joint-authored volume The radicals’ city: urban environment, polarisation, cohesion. It will be published by Ashgate in 2013. It also contains an epilogue written by Jon Coaffee from the University of Birmingham.

The book derives from the ESRC project “The built environment: mirror and mediator of radicalisation?” which ran at the Manchester Architecture Research Centre from 2007 to 2010.

The argument at the basis of the book is that social processes like stereotyping, polarisation, and even radicalisation or open conflict do not happen in a spatial void. Instead, they are part of complex socio-technical processes. In our cities, the built environment functions as symbolic, affective, everyday agent that influences social tension or cohesion.

Over the course of several months, we explored these dynamics with interviews and participatory photography projects in four cities: Amsterdam, Beirut, Belfast, and Berlin. There was also a mobile exhibition to present the project to the public.

The ultimate objective of this visually and empirically rich book is to assist policy makers, planners, architects, urban designers and ordinary citizens in creating urban spaces that are conducive to the friendly encounter of different social groups, thus helping to tackle the ground conditions of societal polarisation and gear it instead towards cohesion.

You can read more about the book in this leaflet, which you will also find at Ashgate’s bookstands at conferences:

Sara Fregonese

See also: Fregonese, S. and Brand, R. (2009) “Polarisation as socio-technical phenomenon. A bibliographical review”, Journal of Urban Technology 16(2-3): 9-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10630730903278546

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