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Dr Giulia Torino

Dr Giulia Torino

Research Fellow in Urban Studies, Peterhouse College

Urban Ethnography, Racial Capitalism, Decoloniality, Afro-Latin America, Black Mediterranean, Cities and (Post-)Conflict, Urban Politics of Everyday Life, Pluriversality, Territory, Inhabitation, Urban South(s)

Biography

Career

  • 2021-present: Research Fellow in Urban Studies, Peterhouse College, University of Cambridge
  • 2021-present: Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2021: Consultant (mapping and analysing racialised surveillance in the city), Amnesty International
  • 2017-present: Guest Lecturer: Department of Architecture and Department of Politics and International Studies (University of Cambridge); University of Sheffield; University Externado of Colombia; University of Basel
  • 2017-2018: Visiting Researcher, Department of Cultural Studies and Faculty of Aesthetics, Pontificia Javeriana University, Bogotá
  • 2015: Urban Designer, New York City Department of City Planning
  • 2014: Visiting Researcher, Department of Architecture, Los Andes University, Bogotá

Qualifications

  • 2021, PhD Urban Studies (no corrections), University of Cambridge
  • 2015, MA Urban Design and Planning (summa cum laude), University IUAV of Venice & University of Sheffield
  • 2012, BA Architecture (summa cum laude), University IUAV of Venice & Illinois Institute of Technology

Recent awards and prizes

  • Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS) Postdoctoral Research Prize, 2022
  • Isaac Newton Small Research Grant, University of Cambridge, 2022
  • University of Cambridge - CRASSH Research Network Funding, 2021-2022
  • Cambridge Political Economy Society Dissertation Grant, 2020
  • University of Cambridge - King's College Doctoral Studentship, 2016-2019
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRD-DTP) Doctoral Studentship, 2016-2019
  • University of Cambridge - Department of Architecture Fieldwork Travel Award, 2019
  • Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS) Conference Grant, 2019 & 2020
  • University of Cambridge - Kettle's Yard Travel Award, 2018 & 2019
  • Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS) Travel Grant, 2018 & 2019
  • University of Cambridge - Worts Travelling Scholars Fund, 2018 & 2019
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC-DTP) Fieldwork Grant, 2018
  • University of Cambridge - Departmental Grants for the 'Urbanism in the Global South (UGS) Network' from: Department of Architecture, Department of Geography, Department of Politics and International Studies, 2017-2019
  • University of Cambridge - King's College Graduate Award, 2017
  • Santander Mobility Grant, 2017

Research

All the research interests below have in common a focus on ethnography, expanded notions of "South(s)" and "urban", and an interest in the dynamic relation between space, place, power, and everyday politics.

1. Spaces of unsettlement, critical re-imagination, and the politics of inhabitation under racial capitalism

My first research focus deals with spaces of everyday violence and unsettlement under racial capitalism and on the political praxis of spatial re-imagination that often stems from subaltern urban groups in conditions of life at the "margins".

In the case of Latin American cities, where I started conducting research in 2012, my research explores the racial-colonial urban imaginaries and socio-economic practices of accumulation and displacement connected to racial capitalism in the region. In particular, I have been studying the local/global racial displacements to cities of, mostly rural, Afro-descendant communities in Latin America (with a focus on Colombia) and the emerging urban practices and processes stemming from their massive urbanization since the beginning of the twenty-first century. These include everyday spaces of racialised inequality created through housing practices, urban governmentality, and socioeconomic stratification (estratificación), among others. I explore these themes in three journal papers. The first (Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 2021), investigates the multicultural urban turn in Latin American cities from a critical ethnographic perspective. It problematises the controversy that exists between the multicultural discourses of the public administration (rooted in claims of ethno-racial equality and Affirmative Action) and their operationalisation through racially biased planning frameworks. In doing so, it connects broader discourses on Latin American racial theories of mestizaje (racial mixture) and multiculturalism to neoliberal urban governance and its denial of the racialization of space in the city.

In my most recent project, on the Mediterranean, I explore the political economy of land, labour, inhabitation, and the production of space and place under racial capitalism at the agro-urban borders of "Fortress Europe" – with a focus on the agricultural supply chain and the "migrant ghettoes" of Southern Italy. Inspired by emergent research on the conceptual framework of the "Black Mediterranean" and continuing to draw on Black Geographies and Critical Race Theory, I focus on extended urbanisation and contemporary plantation regimes in Southern Italy, global displacements through the Mediterranean Sea, and the (often provisional) forms of inhabitation and spatial re-imagination that are stemming from them.

2. Relational epistemologies of space and place

My research has also been concerned with emerging forms of pluri-ethnic urban life and 'pluriversality' as a collective option of futurity rooted in critical hopefulness, solidarity, and the nexus between human and non-human life. In the case of Latin America, I employ regional decolonial theories to explore unattended urban imaginations beyond neoliberal multiculturalism; I especially focus on the role of Afro-Latin American territory in re-shaping the neoliberal city and regional urban geographies. On top of having collaborated with various Afro-Colombian organisations and Human Rights activists working on racial justice and Afro-Colombian territories in Bogotá, I am currently working on a paper that explores (ethnographically) emergent forms of relational urbanism, mutuality, and radical togetherness that are stemming amidst and in spite of the sustained precarity that affects B/black life in Bogotá.

3. Cities in the wake of conflict

This final strand stems from my research on Colombia's everyday war and internal displacement, with a particular focus on internally displaced Afro-Colombian women and urban denizens. It also draws on a new interdisciplinary Research Network that I convene at CRASSH to steer debates on urban conflict that cut across disciplinary and regional silos, among activists, artists and academics. This research project and the forthcoming publications stemming from it examine how political violence reshapes urban lives, imaginations of urban futures, movement, citizenship, belonging, and hope. It raises questions such as: How are legacies of violence inscribed into the urban space and how are they elided? How does urban violence exceed conceptions of the 'post-conflict' and disrupt naïve temporalities of a 'before' and an 'after' war? How human mobility (stemming from conflict) is affecting city-making? Who gets to imagine, plan and decide what urban futures look like after war, and who resists those imaginaries?

Publications

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Teaching

Undergraduate teaching [2021-2022]

  • Lecturer and supervisor, "Global citizenship and its frontiers", Part VI of Paper 4 ("Citizenship, cities and civil society"), Part IB Tripos, Department of Geography
  • Lecturer, "The banality of displacement", Pol 16 ("The Politics of Conflict and Peacebuilding"), Part IIB HSPS Tripos, Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Postgraduate teaching [2021-2022]

  • Primary supervisor, MPhil dissertations, Centre for Latin American Studies (CLAS)
  • Lecturer, "Race, multiculturalism, and the right to (belong in) the city", MPhil in Latin American Studies, Centre for Latin American Studies (CLAS)

In her previous teaching (2017-2020), Giulia has developed and presented the following lectures: "Makeshift Urbanisms" for the MPhil in Architecture Course "Peripheral Urbanism"; "Postcolonial and Decolonial Theories", "Intersectionality and Feminism", "Critical Race Theory and the City", three lectures for the RIBA Part IB Undergraduate Course "Theories in 20th Century Architecture" that then became a structural part of the Cambridge Architecture Curriculum. She has also been actively involved in the UoC's "Decolonising the Curriculum" during 2017-2020.

External activities

  • Founder and convenor (with Dr Surer Mohamed) of the CRASSH Research Network "In War's Wake". Twitter: @InWarsWake
  • Founder and former convenor (with Dr Noura Wahby and Dr Shreyashi Dasgupta) of the "Urbanism in the Global South" Research Network at the Department of Geography, Department of Architecture and POLIS Department
  • Committee Member of the Latin American Geographies (LAG-UK) Research Group, Royal Geographical Society with IBG
  • Member of the Afro-Colombian grassroots organisation Costurero de la Memoria for the Human Rights of IDP women and their families (Bogotá)