Submission deadline:

March 29, 2024

On the Traces of Misery

“Miserabilia” investigates spaces and spectres of misery in the imagination and reality of the contemporary Italian urban context. The main objective is the definition of tools for the recognition and investigation of the tangible and intangible manifestations of misery and the development of methods and languages to narrate and design it. In Western societies today, misery turns out to be unspeakable and invisible, ousted into a historical, geographical, cultural elsewhere, emptied of phenomenologies, evidence, qualities, quantities, dimensions, extensions, discourses. It is unthought and unrepresentable, but it is a matter of space and spatiality. First, architectural space: the obvious, theatricalized and overexposed one in the past and the invisibilized, anonymous, residual, and looming, therefore spectral, space that has gradually taken its place. Second, the philosophical space of words. Third, the space of words between people, that is, the social space, what Henri Lefebvre designated as the territory of representation. Where misery is not portrayed, it does not vanish at all: in anonymity it ends up being internalized, expressing itself in the blaming and even criminalization of poverty, which is counterbalanced by the moral immiseration of affluent neighborhoods, increasingly closed to the rest of the city. Poverty is thus the specter that haunts contemporary social reality, often intuited as the trace of a social condition, an edifice, a right that being no longer there for something or someone manifests its disturbing presence to others. As in Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters (1997), it is not a matter of making this one relief, but of depicting that which has no appearance, which remains concealed, which is not given but is there and inhabits, even politically, cities; in essence, of overcoming certain dichotomies and making sense of a brutal black and white. The dialogue to be opened, in disciplinary and epistemological terms, thus relates the different practices of these spaces and their haunting and phantasmal presence. It is a question of detecting and mapping the spaces, positions, and meanings that the concept of ‘misery’ has occupied and occupies today in a whole series of defined, distinct, and overlapping areas or fields: political, architectural, anthropological, philosophical, sociological, psychological, artistic and landscape spheres.

Submit abstract: March 29, 2024
Notification of abstract acceptance: April 19, 2024
Submit full paper: June 3, 2024
Notification of congress program: June 10, 2024
Congress: June 27-28, 2024

PRIN “Miserabilia: Spaces and Specters of Misery”, call 2022, SH5, Research Units: Università
Iuav di Venezia, Principal Investigator Sara Marini; Università Roma Tre, Associated Investigator
Dario Gentili; Università degli Studi di Genova, Associated Investigator Federico Rahola

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