Image: The landscape of Sunhe Township (Source: Photo by Yimin Zhao, 23 December 2014).

Volume 21/ Number 2 / April 2017

Date published online: 20170914

CITY 21/2

This is something foundational for any ethnographic encounter: we are talking about sharing, about giving and taking, about trusting and being trusted — about going in, out and through different stages of a continuous positioning and (re)positioning related to an entanglement of expectations, trust, political and intellectual commitment to a group, a process or a ‘cause’. (Lancione and Rosa, this issue)

Shortlink: ( i )

Editor in Chief: Bob Catterall

Issue Editor: Andrea Gibbons

Editorial: From margins to centres

Editor: Andrea Gibbons

These are journeys enabled by trust with the ever-present possibility of distrust and epistemic violence; journeys of hope that must continuously recognize hopelessness and fears; and journeys that insist on crossing borders even as each person on the journey learns of borders that they cannot cross – either because it is impossible to cross them, or because it does not make sense to invest in dreams and sweat in these border crossings.’ (Nagar 2014 Nagar, R. 2014. Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press. [Google Scholar], 5-6 quoted in Ramakrishnan, this issue).

In our journeys through the city undertaken in hope of better understanding it, perhaps even of changing it, how do we grapple with the complexities of its spaces, its formations overlaid by our experience of it in the every day? How do we recognise the centres and the margins, sound out our own limits? City 21.2 is full of how we know what we know about the city, how we investigate it, what knowledge we overlay on top of the embodied experience of living in it, walking through it, being forced out of it, being imprisoned in it. How the colour of our skin and the content of our character stand among a host of things determining where and how we can safely traverse the urban, where that journey might begin, what paths are permitted us. Beginnings themselves are often denied. Our positionalities shape the lessons that we take away from these experiences, the ways in which we speak, and the people who are listening.

This issue was put together in the late hours in the midst of my own fieldwork around homelessness in a city that felt bereft of hope, embodying the despair of deindustrialisation and austerity. My own journey—that seemed one of futility and heartbreak both—had an odd resonance with the special feature at the centre of this issue, The city and its margins: Ethnographic challenges across makeshift urbanism. It raised many questions as I worked through the articles collected here... (Read more)

Contents list for this issue on Taylor & Francis