Category Archives: Publications

Two book reviews of “The Radicals’ City”

Recently two reviews of my book with Ralf Brand “The Radicals’ City: Urban Environment, Polarisation, Cohesion” were published. The first, brief one appeared in Urban Design, Issue 129, Winter 2014. The other, more thorough, was published on the Arab Studies Institute e-zine Jadaliyya.

The Jadaliyya review, authored by Jihad Farah, is very engaging and thought-provoking as it tries to pinpoint the role of urban design within the situation in those Middle Eastern cities that are experiencing socio-political transition as well as division, waves of radicalisation and outright violence.

Jihad Farah’s only critique to the book is that the case studies are descriptive and lacking some depth, including treating the groups studied as organic entities rather than highlighting their nuances. This critique is not suprising. Although based on 100+ interviews as well as data elicited through participatory photography, the original project at the basis of the book was – for its nature and duration – broad and to a certain extent exploratory, rather than ethnographically specific and in-depth. Through 4 intense but brief fieldwork sessions of 2 weeks in each city, our goal was to identify urban dynamics connected to dynamics of polarisation and radicalization that are transferable to different contexts and – most importantly – relevant to different audiences.

Jihad Farah’s piece is a very good read for those who are trying to make sense of the ongoing Middle Eastern situation not only from a political perspective, but also – very importantly – from a spatial one.

Sara Fregonese

New book out

The Radicals’ City is now available from Ashgate.

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 19.17.44


Book podcast: The Radicals’ City

On 26/03/2013 I posted about the new book “The Radicals’ City: Built Environment Polarisation, Cohesion” that I co-authored with Ralf Brand. Ashgate is about to publish it this Summer, but you can preview the table of contents and the introduction on their website.

While waiting for the book release, I have recorded a podcast about with The University of Birmingham’s Ideas Lab. It lasts about 10 minutes and contains some empirical cases encountered during the fieldwork at the basis of the volume.



Sara Fregonese


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Forthcoming book: The radicals’ city

After submission in Autumn 2012 (see post on 11/10/2012), the proofs are complete and the new book co-authored with Ralf Brand on radicalisation, social cohesion and the urban built environment is now in print and forthcoming in July (28 July for

Ashgate has a page with the book description and contents: and endorsements by Caroline Moser and Stuart Croft.

The regular price of the hardback is £ 55, but it’s £49 through the publisher’s website. It is also available in e-book and pdf. The price is quite good for both academics and practitioners, especially considering that the book contains 115 (yes, 115) colour images.

The activities of the ESRC-funded research project that inspired the book can be viewed at


Sara Fregonese

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New publication: Mediterranean Spaces of Protest

Slightly over a year ago, when I first became interested in geographies of uprising (see post on 25/10/2012), I convened the British-Academy funded workshop “City/State/Resistance: spaces of protest in the Middle East and Mediterranean” in London. Here, an interdisciplinary range of academics, journalists, and policy-related practitioners looked at uprising as a phenomenon with strong urban identities, but as one that also gathers momentum from transnational shared causes, grievances, relationships, solidarity, tactics, communications, and comparisons. The aim was to blur and expand those regional(ist) interpretation of uprising in the Arab world that would like to confine it to a ‘domino’ of state regimes falling in orderly fashion in some limited area of the globe. This attempt of disturbing the domino, and breaking beyond it by relating the Arab uprising to other spaces of protest in the Mediterranean, is now a publication in the latest issue of European Urban and Regional Studies. It is part of the Euro-commentaries series of shorter papers that “address key policy developments or political events that affect European urban and regional development” (quoting the EURS website). It includes a number of workshop participants – some with new co-authors – and two prestigious additional contributions by Kostas Douzinas and Carlos Taibo.

Below are the contents of the series, which you can read at

If you don’t have a subscription for this journal, please email me on


Euro-commentary special collection: Mediterranean Spaces of Protest

Sara Fregonese (Birmingham)

Mediterranean geographies of protest


Lynn Staeheli and Caroline R Nagel (South Carolina and Durham)

Whose awakening is it? Youth and the geopolitics of civic engagement in the ‘Arab Awakening’


Andrea Teti and Andrea Mura (Aberdeen and Aberdeen+Open)

Convergent (il)liberalism in the Mediterranean? Some notes on Egyptian (post-)authoritarianism and Italian (post-)democracy


Jeremy Anderson (International Transport Workers’ Federation, UK)

Intersecting arcs of mobilisation: The transnational trajectories of Egyptian dockers’ unions


Costas Douzinas (University of London, UK)

Athens rising


Lorenzo Trombetta (ANSA Italian News Agency, Beirut Middle East Bureau)

More than just a battleground: Cairo’s urban space during the 2011 protests


Adam Ramadan (Birmingham)

From Tahrir to the world: The camp as a political public space


Yair Wallach (SOAS)

The politics of non-iconic space: Sushi, shisha, and a civic promise in the 2011 summer protests in Israel


Carlos Taibo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

The Spanish indignados: A movement with two souls


we are everywhere

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Contested Mediterranean Spaces. Book review.

After presenting my thoughts at its launch event at SOAS one year ago, I reviewed this very interesting collection of essays for Environment and Planning D. The volume is inspired Charles Tilly’s work on contentious politics in the Mediterranean, whose cities are at the centre of today’s security concerns amidst uprising, regime transition, protests, and conflict. This book sets the tone for the discussions that geopolitics scholars should have – and we should have more – on this region, its urban communities and environments.

You can read the review here:

Kousis M, Selwyn T and Clark D (2011) Contested Mediterranean spaces ethnographic essays in honour of Charles Tilly. Oxford and New York, Berghahn Books

Sara Fregonese

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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.

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