‘Twisting territorial stigmatization’ – session @RC21 Athens, August 25, 2022

At the 2022 RC21 conference ‘Ordinary Cities in Exceptional Times’ in Athens, I hosted a double session together with Cristina Mattiucci (UNINA Naples). Federica Duca, Lore Janssens & Alex Govers Pijoan, Frank Müller, Roberta Pacelli, Ben-Arie Ronnen, and Carolina Sternberg presented six papers reflecting on the idea of ‘Twisting territorial stigmatization’.

Following Loic Wacquant’s seminal works (1992, 1993), many urban studies scholars have studied territorial stigmatization as a key concept. It provides a framework to understand and discuss territorial Othering and exclusion, negotiation and stabilization, as well as the fragmentation of power, via (urban) space (e.g. Sisson, 2021). In this session, we proposed to further twist the gaze on this well-known concept in order to understand territorial stigmatization more profundly. Rather than focusing on certain territories per se, we do so by asking which kinds of actors and practices are being stigmatized in which kinds of places. Who is affected by territorial stigmatization, and in which ways? The panel assumed that instances of territorial stigmatization in the ordinary city continue to take new shapes and become increasingly common-place under current conditions of planetary crisis, which smoothen the polarizations among social, economic and living conditions but strengthen conflicts and ways to construct Otherness. Therefore, we proposed this session as a place to debate one of the categorizations of exception versus the ‘normalcy’ which shapes many aspects of urban life and influences urban governmentalities. The panel connected to ongoing debates in the fields of urban and political geography, critical race studies, urban planning and geographies of the law.