Mapping the right to the city: City perception as a shaping force

Giulia Carones


The present article engages with activists’ perception of the urban environment and practice of the urban commons via their political engagement. More specifically the research featured here has sought to address how participating in an urban social movement which advocates the grassroot, citizen-led creation and management of the urban commons can shape individuals’ perception of the city. To explore this, I have devised and relied on a cognitive mapping tool as a component of semi-structured interviews with members of the activist collective Laboratorio Universitario Metropolitano (LUMe) in Milan, Italy. The maps have proven conducive to meaningful conversations and reflections on city perception, leading to the argument that activism does affect city perception  in the research and assimilation of new landmarks in the urban fabric, conveying participants’ creative and operational gaze on the city, as well as in a positive notion of political confrontation as a generative, necessary rupture of the status quo.

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