Urban Peripheries in Europe and the Construction of New Semantic Spaces

Author: Cinzia Colaiuda (University of Rome Tor Vergata (IT), Italy)
Speaker: Cinzia Colaiuda
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
COMELA 2020 General Session


The hyper-complexity of multicultural societies and global migration processes are rapidly transforming our reality in which urban peripheries are becoming the centre of social and cultural change. Moreover, in the so called hypermodern era, characterized by linguistic pyramids and hybridization of social processes, national and regional (or local) language policies still have a strong influence on the linguistic construction of urban sphere that can often hide extended situations of ‘superdiversity’ (Blommaert, J., Collins, J., Slembrouck, S., 2005).

This paper is based on an ethnographic analysis of human peripheries in Europe considered as complex and heterogeneous eco-systems (Morin, 1988). It has a two fold aim: on the one hand, it shows the impact of language policies on the suburban architecture of two European cities, i.e. Rome and London, thanks to systematic ethnographic observations of their main features (street signs, shop signs, street art, etc).

On the other hand, it reflects on the role that marginal areas of big cities like Rome and London can play in starting a revolution from the ‘bottom’ through the requalification of their peripheries, that can be considered today as new semantic spaces in which a new idea of Europe can be built up thanks to the use of bottom – up approaches to public policies.

Keywords: Super-diversity, creativity, bottom-up approach, language policy