From intimate and proximal domesticity to the spatial expanse of the global cityscape, our interactions with material culture continually form and reform human embodiment—teaching us how to sense and move through the world as lived-through meaning (Merleau-Ponty 1945, Bachelard 1958). We invite scholars, activists, artists, and practitioners to share their investigations of the periphery through this bodily lens. Human interplay with non-human materials suggests that the way people (re)shape and respond to the built environment through sensuous practices (Mallgrave 2015) bears repercussions on ethics, (inter)subjectivities, right claims, social welfare, and the cityscape. Urbanity is embodied via techniques of the body just as much as it is objectified as the spatial form of the city itself.

Embodying Peripheries calls for innovative and provoking contributions across geographies and historical timeframes that look at the formation of embodied practices and subjectivities in the periphery that inform the urban imaginaries of a city biography. These practices include commuting, laboring, occupying, squatting, bodily resistance to forms of oppression, discrimination and dispossession, corporeal citizenship, voluntary and forced migrations, interventions on the sensescape, performative experiments, music, dance, artistic and aesthetic projects, urban farming, guerrilla urbanism, social movements, embodied political action, and sensuous alter-epistemologies, such as urban foraging, wandering, and local strategies for urban survival, among others. These cityscapes congeal within the human body the same way civilization and its discontents sediment within the mind. They are of the past accumulation of experiences as much as they unfold as vectors to the future.

We consider the periphery as both a mode of production of space (Caldeira 2017) that transcends territorial locations and for its potential as a topological anchor to decenter urban analysis (Roy 2011). We welcome critical statements that destabilize modes of knowledge production that consider the processes outside mainstream urban and architectural theories as “peripheral.” We particularly value alternative practices and their related discourses that show how what is deemed peripheral to urban life is in actuality essential to it (Simone 2010).

As people move from periphery to center, center to center, and periphery to periphery, how do embodied practices themselves serve as new partitions of social structure alongside the material edges of urban spaces? Or do they restructure and resignify these very edges by acts of movement and sensory praxis? How do the sensescapes of global industry and technologies restructure and discipline the body? How might peripheral structures serve a constructive purpose of affirming ways of life by supporting various bodily practices? What are the bodily challenges that peripheral subjectivities pose against their urban conditions? How does embodying the periphery for cultural survival become a radical political practice?

We invite work that combines the ethics and ethos of Black, Indigenous, and gender studies with the systematic inquiry of anthropology, rhetoric, and sociology, and critical accounts across architecture, urban planning, and geography. We welcome contributions that bring to bear the interpretive powers of the humanities to questions of the periphery—including historical, artistic, literary, philosophical, musicological, ethnomusicological, religious, film, and performance studies approaches.

© Ralf Korbmacher (top) | Giuseppina Forte (center)
Coletivo Estética Urbana/Kaio Figueredo (bottom)