1st Edition

Urban Walls Political and Cultural Meanings of Vertical Structures and Surfaces

Edited By Andrea Mubi Brighenti, Mattias Kärrholm Copyright 2018
    270 Pages 89 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 89 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In recent years, an increasing number of separation walls have been built around the world. Walls built in urban areas are particularly striking in that they have exacted a heavy toll in terms of human suffering. As territorialising devices, walls can be protective, but the protection they grant is never straightforward. This collection invites inquiry into the complexities of the social life of walls, observing urban spaces as veritable laboratories of wall-making – places where their consequences become most visible. A study of the relationship between walls and politics, the cultural meaning of walls and their visibility, whether as barriers or as legible – sometimes spectacular – surfaces, and their importance for social processes, Urban Walls shows how walls extend into media spaces, thus drawing a multidimensional geography of separation, connection, control and resistance. As such, the collection will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology, geography, architecture and politics with interests in urban studies and social theory.

    List of Contributors

    Introduction: The Life of Walls – In Urban, Spatial and Political Theory (Andrea Mubi Brighenti and Mattias Kärrholm)

    1. On Walls in the Open City (Alison Young)

    2. Dismantling Belfast Peace Walls: New material arrangements for improving community relations (Florine Ballif)

    3. Walling Through Seas: The Indian Ocean, Australian border security, and the political present (Peter Chambers)

    4. Walls, walling and the immunitarian imperative (Claudio Minca and Alexandra Rijke)

    5. Screening Brazil: Footnotes on a Wall (Pedro Victor Brandão and Andrea Pavoni)

    6. Warsaw Afterimages: Of Walls and Memories (Ella Chmielewska)

    7. Wall Terrains. Architecture, body culture and parkour (Emma Nilsson)

    8. Gating housing in Sweden: Walling in the privileged, walling out the public (Karin Grundström)

    9. The Right to the City Is the Right to the Surface: A Case for a Surface Commons (in 8 Arguments, 34 Images and some Legal Provisions) (Sabina Andron)

    10. The Multiple Walls of Graffiti Removal. Maintenance and Urban Assemblage in Paris (Jérôme Denis and David Pontille)

    11. Walls as Fleeting Surfaces. From Bricks to Pixels, Trains to Instagram (Lachlan MacDowall)



    Andrea Mubi Brighenti is Professor of Social Theory in the Department of Sociology and Social Research at the University of Trento, Italy.

    Mattias Kärrholm is Professor of Architectural Theory in the Department of Architecture and the Built Environment at Lund University, Sweden.

    "Walls and cities have long been partners, but their relationship has been understudied. This creative and important collection takes the social and political work of the urban wall seriously. Rather than a self-evident object, the wall becomes lively, talkative, mobile and ambivalent, dividing yet also connecting. A valuable and original contribution." 

    Nicholas Blomley, Simon Fraser University, Canada

    "It is a remarkable feat for an edited volume to read as cohesively and with such strong focus as Urban Walls. The walls included here (violent walls, but also vulnerable ones; aquatic, immunising, yet totally exposed and medialised walls; affective and playful, immaterial and palimpsestic walls) are marked by the wounds of history, geography and politics that surround them but also that are generated by them. These walls feel as material and fleshy as if we were placing our hand on their surface."

    Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, , University of Westminster, UK

    "An instructive and compelling examination of walls in their multiple present forms. The emphasis on the material and vertical puts this at the heart of contemporary debates. Historically situated, richly illustrated, and with a view to wider themes as much as empirical detail, this is an important contribution to politics, geography and urban studies."

    Stuart Elden, University of Warwick, UK