Urban Walls: Political and Cultural Meanings of Vertical Structures and Surfaces, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Urban Walls

Political and Cultural Meanings of Vertical Structures and Surfaces, 1st Edition

Edited by Andrea Mubi Brighenti, Mattias Kärrholm


258 pages | 89 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138304338
pub: 2018-08-23
SAVE ~$28.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203730225
pub: 2018-09-03
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


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.


"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

Table of Contents

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)


About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General