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Panel 28. Scales of displacement and emerging spaces of encounter and mobilization: Seeking common ground across cities, disciplines, and social groups


  • Paolo Boccagni, full professor, University of Trento,
  • Margarethe Kusenbach, professor, University of South Florida,


Displacement, as a constellation of embattled processes rather than a singular event, can involve multiple geopolitical scales. These range from the national to the regional, urban and strictly housing ones. Across them, what displaced people and groups encounter is not only exposure to physical disruption and material loss but also enduring emotional and relational costs—the impossibility, whether temporary or permanent, to call a place home, to develop a sense of belonging in a safe and familiar environment. But what exactly, besides the material comforts of shelter, enables displaced people to recover a sense of home? How do places, identities, and relationships intersect in feelings and practices of belonging, given also the space available for local or transnational collective action after displacement? What are the structural conditions and politics of these dynamics, and what spaces of encounter, solidarity and mobilization emerge in urban environments of both the Global North and South? In this session we aim to facilitate an empirically based discussion of the intersections between home, belonging, displacement and grassroots mobilization across multiple geographical scales. This will reveal the potential of a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to displacement involving urban and housing research, as much as environmental, migration, refugee, majority/minority and colonial studies. Our goal is to develop a relational, intersectional understanding of place and displacement as a critical feature of contemporary social life, which illuminates multiple battlefields for the “right to place” between unequally situated social groups. This is also a precondition to assess the potential, and the typical factors of ‘success’ or ‘failure’, of anti-displacement mobilization and coalition-building across cities. Under what conditions such mobilization paves the way for material re-emplacement, and possibly for the construction of new forms of belonging and home, is the last question to be addressed in our session.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

Diagonal Paraguay 257,
Torre 26, Oficina 1504
Santiago – RM

Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM