Passeur Theory

Lisa & Hans Fittko, passeurs…

Lisa & Hans Fittko, passeurs…



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Sometimes, an underground class…

underground class

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Onore, sacro, intensità. Per una sociologia del timotico

Apparirà in La società degli individui, n. 56, anno XIX, 2016/2

A un primo sguardo, onore e dignità sembrano opporsi come l’arcaico e il moderno. In questo senso, la missione che il pensiero moderno, “democratico”, si auto-attribuisce è di sconfiggere e superare una regolazione sociale di tipo aristocratico. L’onore viene così considerato da un’ampia gamma di pensatori moderni come retaggio di forme tribali, particolariste ed elitarie di interazione sociale, a cui viene contrapposta una nuova forma morale universalista e democratica, quella della dignità. Tale, in breve, è il sogno kantiano che Rawls (2000: 328) ha denominato “aristocrazia di tutti”. Ma, come la stessa espressione paradossale lascia intravedere, il rapporto tra onore e dignità è estremamente più complesso di una semplice antitesi.

pdf version

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Domestic Territories and the Little Humans (with Mattias Kärrholm)

Understanding the Animation of Domesticity


A Mongolian Ongon


Abstract. Domesticity is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. In this piece, we approach it from the point of view of a general theory of territories. To do so, we attempt to tackle simultaneously the ecological and spiritual dimensions of home by attending the expressive dimension of domesticity. We emphasise that the expressiveness of home inherently includes the register of the familiar as well as that of the unfamiliar (Freud’s unheimlich). The constant negotiations between these two registers can be appreciated as carried out ‘at the limits of control’. To highlight this fact, we focus on the case of the ‘little humans’, miniature humanoid creatures well attested in traditional mythologies and folk tales across different civilisations. Drawing from anthropological and ethnographic literature, yet with a leading interest in social-spatial theorising, we seek to untangle the relations between humans and the ‘little humans’ – these ‘elusive others’ living with us – in order to clarify the deep meanings ingrained in domestic territories.

Keywords: domestic territories; territoriology; little humans; limits of control; parasites; crowds; animism.


Introduction: Inquiring into domestic expressions
The elusive others living with us
Patterns of relations and the limits of control


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The Excruciating Work of Love…

On Foucault’s Kehre towards the Subject

A chapter forthcoming in Andreas Oberprantacher & Andrei Siclodi (Eds.) Subjectivation in Political Theory and Contemporary Practices


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Morphogenesis and Animistic Moments (with Mattias Kärrholm)

On formative processes and territorial production


Human embryo 4 mm long, 30 days old


Abstract. This piece explores the issues of morphogenesis and metamorphosis in socio-spatial formations and social assemblages. The specific key provided here to apprehend the issue of ‘form’ is what we propose to call the ‘animistic moment’ in form-taking processes. We believe that a conceptualisation of animistic moments might help us to better understand, not simply the coming about, but the specific yet elusive power forms are endowed with. The general social-theoretical horizon for the essay is an approach to social collectives as forms of territorialisation and territorial stabilisation. An inquiry into the genesis and the transformation of forms through animistic moments, we suggest, might also be employed in the study of processes of social territorialisation at large.

Keywords: social theory; genesis of forms; formative processes; individuals and social aggregates; socio-spatial formations; animistic moments;



1. The mystery of appearances
2. Metamorphosis and investments into form
3. Form-taking and the environment
4. The formation of individual collectives
5. Animistic moments and the revelations of form
6. Territorial production through animation
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Social Camouflage: Functions, Logic, Paradoxes (with Alessandro Castelli)

Now published in Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory

Fixing the Shadow / Beyond the Law (1992)

Fixing the Shadow / Beyond the Law (1992)

Abstract. Camouflage is usually understood as a type of deceitful communication
strategy in the animal and human domains. In this piece, we invite scholars to consider how the phenomenon of camouflage, while certainly grounded in antagonism and selection, might exceed its strategic meaning. Using the case of undercover agents movies, we attempt to flesh out the inner logic of camouflage and the type of social-existential situations it gives shape to. Exploring the mundane practical problem of ‘infiltration’ into a social group or social milieu, the article zooms in onto the experience of camouflage and highlights its relatedness to and distinction from imitation. Camouflage is here used not as an overarching interpretive category, rather, as an instance that reveals something about the problems inherent in the constitution of inter-subjective life. The article seeks to contribute to a theoretical development in the study of social logic and social teleology, stressing the curious entanglement of deliberate strategic action and irrational desire that contradistinguishes what could be called the ‘aberrant conjunction’ of the camoufleur and its target. Camouflage, we conclude, is not only about make-believe but also, crucially, about desiring and learning to desire.

Keywords: Mimicry, Camouflage, Undercover movies, Infiltration, Social logic, Social phenomenology, Inter-Subjectivity

The Functions of Camouflage
The Logic of Camouflage
The Existential Phenomenology of Camouflage
The Paradoxes of Camouflage, or, Learning to Desire

Social Camouflage-FIN+pics  (50 free downloads)

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Domestic to Wild, and Back: on Urban Animals

Andrea Mubi Brighenti & Andrea Pavoni 2016


The bear Daniza with her two cubs, in summer 2014

Abstract. This piece explores ‘domesticity’ as a social territory defined by the relationship it entertains with the conceptual and material space of ‘the wild’. The leading research question can be framed as follows: do these two spaces stand in opposition to each other, or are more subtle relations of co-implication at play? As we enquiry into the domestic and the wild, a richer conceptual map of notions is drawn, which also includes the public, the common, the civilised and the barbarian. The case study that illustrates this dense intermingling of categories is offered by the case of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s, who repeatedly came into unexpected, accidental contacts with humans. Declared a ‘dangerous animal’, Daniza was controversially killed by public authorities in 2014, officially in an attempt to capture her with anaesthetising bullets, but in a way that still leaves doubts about the degree of voluntariness of the killing. The piece argues that the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-material domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and elaborates a series of corollaries for studying animals in urban contexts.

Keywords: Domesticity; Domestication; Wildness; Bears; Urban Animals; Territorial Governance



Introduction – Domesticity as Urban Prolongation

  1. Animal Governance, Domestication, and Classification
  2. Locating the Wild in the Urban
  3. Domesticity, Domestication and Civilisation
  4. The Unlucky Case of Bear Daniza
  5. Which Sort of Wild?
  6. The Barbarian


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Expressive Measures: An Ecology of the Public Domain

Forthcoming in Graffiti and Street Art. Reading, Writing and Representing the City.
Edited by Konstantinos Avramidis, Myrto Tsilimpounidi. London: Routledge.

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What’s a philosopher useful for?


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Antonio Gramsci’s Theory of the Civil Society


Brighenti_2016_Antonio Gramsci’s Theory of the Civil Society

An entry for Handbuch Kultursoziologie, edited by Stephan Moebius, Frithjof Nungesser and Katharina Scherke. Springer.

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L’etnografia e i sensi: una riflessione preliminare


Introduzione al monografico su “L’etnografia e i sensi”, Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, n.1/2016


Brighenti -2016-L’etnografia e i sensi


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Value – Inquiries into a Polymorphous Magic Substance

A Lecture I’m giving at The Debt Complex Spring School  19-21 May 2016, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano


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Gabriel Tarde: logica sociale e teleologia sociale – A seminar



Brighenti__24 maggio_Gabriel Tarde

martedì 24 maggio 2016 ore 13:00 AULA SEMINARI SPS (stanza 215, lato Passione)
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Economiche e Sociali – via Conservatorio 7, Milano


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Three Presents (with Mattias Kärrholm)

On the multi-temporality of territorial production and the gift from John Soane

Forthcoming in Time & Society



Territoriality has primarily been seen as a spatial rather than temporal phenomenon. In this paper, we want to investigate how time functions in territorialising processes. In particular, we are attracted by the multi-temporality that is co-present in each process of territorialisation (i.e. processes in which time and space are used as means of measure, control, and expression). The article is divided into two main parts. In the first part we draw inspiration from Gilles Deleuze’s book Logic of Sense, as well as from authors such as Simmel, Whitehead, Benjamin and Jesi, in order to articulate three different types of the present (Aion, Kronos and Chronos). In the second part we move to a short case study of the collector John Soane and the establishment of his house-museum. The case is used to exemplify how these three presents can be used to discuss and temporal aspects of territorialisation in general, and the production of a specific sort of territory – the house-museum as a new building type – in particular.

Territorial Production; Temporality of the Present; Aion, Kronos, Chronos; Collectionism; House-museum

Sir John Soane's Museum, The Dome Area (photograph by courtesy of Jesper Magnusson)

Sir John Soane’s Museum, The Dome Area (photograph by courtesy of Jesper Magnusson)

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Il valore dello spazio pubblico. Qualche declinazione giuridica, politica ed economica

Una relazione al seminario Giustizia, architettura, diritti. Visioni e pratiche della città contemporanea, Napoli, 29 aprile 2016.

Giustizia, architettura, diritti

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The Visible: Element of the Social

A speech I’m giving at the conference Understanding Visual Culture – Interdisciplinary Perspectives – Bologna, 21-22 April 2016

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Cineforum TRANSIZIONI TERRITORI / 2 I tempi dei villaggi e delle città al cinema


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De la visibilité by Nathalie Heinich – Book Review


Brighenti-2016-De-la-visibilité – Book Review

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Visibilità e spazio pubblico – Città di muri e città di schermi


Lezione al Corso di dottorato in Scienze sociali, Università di Padova
5 aprile 2016 – h. 14-17 – Sala Specchi – Via Cesarotti 10/12 – Padova

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Urban Interstices

9781472410016.PPC_urban interstices

now on googlebooks:

Full pdf here :


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Graffiti, Street Art and the Divergent Synthesis of Place Valorisation in Contemporary Urbanism

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Camouflage, or, the Temptation of Relationship

URME - © Leo Selvaggio

URME – © Leo Selvaggio

Published in membrana 1/16 – Magazine of Photography


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City of Unpleasant Feelings – Stress, Comfort and Animosity in Urban Life (with Andrea Pavoni)

Abstract. The image of the city as a stressful place is an evergreen topic. In this article we review the imagination of urban stress, starting from Simmel’s classic thesis that the modern city is an unavoidably psychic-stimulating environment potentially leading to stimuli overload. City dwellers are then supposed to counter stimuli overload with a series of adaptation strategies. However, the ways in which these phenomena can be conceptualised are varied. Historically, a shift of emphasis seems to have occurred from the classic conceptualisation of hyperaesthesia to the contemporary preoccupations with the design of comfortable atmospheres. Such atmospheres are, in fact, comfort bubbles. In the article we tackle the aspirations and predicaments of such engineered atmospheres. In particular, we build on Sloterdijk’s argument that, ultimately, bubbles fail to do away with stress: whereas for Simmel stress anaesthetised urbanites, Sloterdijk has pointed out that, rather, comfort itself stresses them. To better tackle the magmatic stratum of dissatisfaction that seems so coessential to urban life, in the final part of the article we focus on the notion of animosity. We suggest to conceptualise it as a type of disquiet that cannot be reduced to established recognisable interaction formats.

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Climbing the City – On the Corporeality of the Urban (with Andrea Pavoni)

Courtesy & Copyright: Vitaliy Raskalov |

Courtesy & Copyright: Vitaliy Raskalov |


Abstract. Over the last couple of decades, urban sports have been studied – as well as, in many cases, celebrated – as critical forms of using urban space. Urban climbing, a practice also known as ‘buildering’, ‘structuring’, and ‘stegophilia’, has been much explored in this vein. While we acknowledge the importance of the theoretical move consisting in bringing to light the political and playful dimensions of the urban spatial experience, in this piece we would like to focus on a slightly different question. Rather than emphasising either the political of playful import of urban climbing, we propose a theoretical apprehension of it as a powerful means to probe and understand the finest constitution of urban environments themselves. By doing so, we wish, on the one hand, to zoom in as closely as possible onto the actual bodily practice of climbing, and, on the other, to attend its methodological implications in terms of a reflection on climbing techniques in the context of a natural history of the city. We describe urban climbing as a peculiar corporeal operation carried out at and, more precisely, on the limits of environmental control. The climber, we highlight, is neither properly active nor passive. Rather, proceeding along a nondescript boundary, the climbers inhabits a limit, a plane of contingency whose coordinates lie at some point between the necessary and the arbitrary.

Keywords: urban climbing; bodily practice; object/environment relations; compositional techniques; subjectivity; temporality

More soon…

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