Crisis-scapes: an edited collection of texts on city, public spaces and crisis in Athens and beyond

The new book Crisis-scapes is fully available for free to download from

or google books:

It is based on a conference carried out in May 2014 by the ESRC Future Research Leaders project the City at the time of Crisis.

Book Review Releases ::: “THE NEIGHBORHOOD: OUR PLAYGROUND” Towards the ‘spatial turn’ in Social and Urban Theory

A book review of my first theoretical essay by Federico Savini (University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research)  has just been released on the Academic journal Cidades, Comunidades e Territórios, 27 (Dez/2013), pp.73-75 ISSN: 2182-3030.

I am glad to share this critical analysis of my very early reflections on urban theory and research practice that, actually, came out from the first year of doctoral school at the University of Trento!

Here the book review

Staying Put: an anti-gentrification handbook for council estates in London

Challenging the “New Urban Renewal”: Gathering the Tools Necessary to Halt the Social Cleansing of Council Estates and Developing Community-led Alternatives for Sustaining Existing Communities

This handbook explains why the regeneration of council estates often results in established communities being broken up and moved away, and housing becoming more expensive. It is designed to help local communities learn about gentrification and the alternatives they can fight for. Through the experiences of council tenants, leaseholders and the wider community in London, it contains ideas, stories, tools and resources.

Staying Put: An Anti-gentrification Handbook for Council Estates in London is a collaboration between Just Space, Southwark Notes Archives Group, the London Tenants Federation and Prof. Loretta Lees funded by an Antipode Foundation Scholar-Activist Project Award. It is free to download and use by any individuals, community groups and campaigns, students, teachers, researchers…

Please find the electronic version at

Gentrificación de sensibilidades. Política y estética en un barrio en transformación de la Ciudad de Nueva York

Spanish Resumen

Este artículo examina cómo la producción de ” autenticidad urbana ” para los usuarios cada vez más prósperos (Hackworth, 2002) puede ocultar los mecanismos de poder y de clase en el contexto de la gentrificación y el desplazamiento. Se sugiere un tratamiento relacionado de algunos de los principios teóricos y metodológicos relativos a la gentrificación, el diseño urbano y el proceso de creación de límites. La forma Super- gentrificación que se discutirá en el texto, se enmarca como un proceso relacionado con los conceptos arquitectónicos de límites, umbrales y transición. Yo sostengo que el modo distintivo en el que los gentrificadores perciben los problemas estéticos y de diseño urbano se asocia con la forma en que ejercen el poder, se construyen significados diversos y se construye la sociabilidad. Esto es lo que finalmente se define como “el aburguesamiento de las sensibilidades”.

El caso que se desarrolla remite al paisaje urbano de Nueva York y, más concretamente, a la estética de los brownstones Brooklyn de Park Slope. El enfoque metodológico se basa en un diseño de estudio etnográfico de caso. Los elementos visuales (en forma de diagramas, contenido , información gráfica y fotografías) contribuyen a una mejor comprensión tanto de la declaración del problema y el campo de la investigación espacial.

Palabras clave: Super-Gentrification, diseño urbano, límites sociales, autenticidad, Brooklyn.

English Abstract (The Gentrification of Sensibilities: Politics and Aesthetics in a NYC changing neighborhood)

This article examines how the production of “urban authenticity” for progressively more affluent users (Hackworth, 2002) may uncover the mechanism of power and class in the context of gentrification and displacement. It is suggested that addressing some theoretical and methodological principles that can be related to gentrification, urban design and the process of boundary-making can be studied in reference to each other. Accordingly, as it will be discussed, the way Super-gentrification evolves during the time is framed as a process related with the architectural concepts of boundaries, thresholds, and transition. I argue that the distinctive mode in which gentrifiers perceive aesthetic issues and urban design is associated with the way they exert power, construct diverse meanings and enact sociality. This is what I finally defined as “gentrification of sensibilities,” which come together to secure the ground for a “cultural claim” on gentrification literature.
The setting comes from the New York urban scenery and, more specifically, from the aesthetic of brownstones and row houses in Brooklyn’s neighborhood of Park Slope. The methodological approach is based upon an ethnographic/case study design, and done so for all analyzed scales (neighborhood urban area; out-group forms of relationship; many different and geographically spread out community institutions as in neighborhood private settings; in-group lifestyle; residence housing unit). The visual elements (in the form of diagrams, info-graphic contents, and photographs) contribute to a better understanding of both the problem statement and the spatial research field.

Key Words: Super-Gentrification, urban design, Social boundaries, authenticity, Brooklyn.

Download the full paper here.

Published in Quid 16. Revista de Área de Estudios Urbanos, Issue on “Ciudades neoliberales”: políticas urbanas, diseño y justicia social, No 3 (2013), pp. 62- 94. ISSN: 2250-4060

«Give me a break! I’€™m from Brooklyn, we’re not fancy» Ph.D. Dissertation on the neighborhood of Park Slope, New York City

On April 14 2014, I have finally (successfully) defended my Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Research. The discussion was held in English at the Sociology Department of the University of Trento (Italy) with a doctoral committee chaired by Sharon Zukin with Jerome Krase and Tom Slater. My study was focused on institutions, housing and lifestyles in the Super-gentrification process of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, whereby I have held a twenty-months long affiliation as Visiting Doctoral Researcher at The City University of New York.

Here the thesis-library references, the abstract and some materials (visual also) that remind the defence-day!

2014. Manzo, L.K.C. «Give me a break! I’m from Brooklyn, we’re not fancy». Institutions, Housing and Lifestyles in Super-gentrification process. A Field and Historical research in Park Slope, New York City, The University of Trento, Unitn-eprints PhD.


In an attempt to make concrete linkages between neighborhood change and the boundary-making paradigm, this field and longitudinal study of a New York City’€™s neighborhood, addresses the influences of displacement, housing- abandonment and resettlement in Super-gentrification processes on 1) the types of institutions that emerged to represent different class interests; 2) the types of social groups that came to inhabit the neighborhood; 3) the pattern of that evolution over time; 4) the particular goals, values, and morals that such community organizations evolved; and 5) the social status displays carried out in cultured consumption in housing and leisure.

Employing a multi-methodological and theoretical approach, the study follows the evolution and development of neighborhood change over forty years through the analysis of social groups and their community organizations (looking at archival documents for the past and by in-depth interviews, shadowing and ethnographic observation for the present time), census data analysis, archival/documental research, and visual data.

Community organizations emerged, on the one hand, to represent different class interests – improvement, mandated, ideological -€“ and to emphasize liberal progressive values, on the other. This emergence followed historical and geographical patterns of accelerating gentrification. The study argues that four waves of gentrification showed up across the time and tended to concentrate in four different neighborhood areas, where the incoming groups formed parallel boundary shifts.

Accordingly, I found that different waves of gentrification were associated with the emergence of different types of Gentrifiers over time, and this had to do with the changing role of post-industrial cities within the American economy, the processes of government/local institution interventions in the neighborhood housing market, the changes in class interests, morals and ideologies, and the increased aestheticized re-scriptings of neighborhood housing choices and lifestyles. Such aesthetic appreciation operated for gentrifiers as a visible marker of social status.

As residential displacement, the disappearance of “old”€ local stores, and their replacement of upscale shops entailed forms of social inequality that enhanced the lifestyle of new waves of gentrifiers (raising housing values and rents) while, at the same time, forced out morally (by alienation) or practically (by displacement) long-term residents, who helped produce the neighborhood socio-cultural fabric. Diversity and aesthetic appeal seemed to underlie the motives of wealthier, well-educated newcomers to move into the neighborhood. Interestingly, those have not been changing throughout the different waves of gentrifiers who came to inhabit the community in the last 40 years. However – during the process of Super-gentrification -€“ I found that the more they populate the neighborhood, the more it becomes homogenized and less richly diverse, still quite progressive but in a different way. I would say, in a privileged progressive way.

Despite the fact that the moral order of these institutions has always been the one of community solidarity, culture, education, and growth, I observed at the same time the playing out of the most common paradox of gentrifiers. The desire of diversity and the producing of difference. This is, I believe, the central problem of gentrification: the balance between, or the combination of, pleasure and power. Balancing pleasure and power is a social, political, and moral problem. It brings together many of the concerns about gentrification, the desire for (and the loss of) diversity, and expresses the central thesis of this study.

PDF (Thesis Front Cover) – Cover Image

PDF (Thesis Abstract) – Supplemental Material

PDF (Thesis Preface) – Supplemental Material

Keep on walking

I had a choice, I could sling off the runway and let my inner researcher die or I could pick myself up flaws and all and finish. And that’s just what I did because when real people have hurted in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.

Milano Montecity. The Suspended City (article in Italian)

“The ideal city in the city”. This was the claim of the Zunino Real Estate, selling a dream: a passage to a modern life at the outskirts of Milan on a great promenade boulevard. A new cityscape of well-tended green areas and walking avenues, where residents could relax in cafés and mothers with their kids are all around.
However, Santa Giulia-Montecity, rather than a model of ideal city, has remained an ideal type, or rather virtual, because today the neighborhood sadly lives only in the project of its famous architect, Norman Foster. Like avatars, the renderings appear from the parallel world of internet to stress a paradoxical reality; virtually created images that become real objects themselves when they are photographed. Surreal representations that mingle with the images taken from the field and become both, imaginaries and imagined projection of the city, the same that appears in the suspended glances of those who “really” live in Milan Montecity. Far from being just a symbolic opposition, the enclosed social documentary represents an important part of this work, which is about another miserable real estate and financial scandal in the recent history of Milan.

Urban Renewal, Ethnographic Documentary, Milan

Read the article here.

Published in i Quaderni-Urbanistica Tre, Journal of Urban Design and Planning of Università degli Studi Roma Tre, issue on Urban Representations, Year I, 3, September-December 2013, pp. 65-74. ISSN: 1973-9702

«Desire for Diversity and Difference in Gentrified Brooklyn». Dialogue between a planner and a sociologist.

This co-authored paper combines two ethnographic experiences conducted in two Brooklyn neighborhoods, with the aim to understand the gentrification process: its plural and multidimensional character and the contextual variables. However, coming from different paradigms they are less interested in doing a comparison of their case studies than presenting how different perspectives see and problematize gentrification and urban change in the face of diversity. In this light, the paper discusses the authors’ first-hand experiences and results from the field research as in a sort of dialogue with the academic reader. Reflections on how do they see and problematize gentrification and diversity, the social effects of displacement and the role of planning conclude the paper.
Keywords: Gentrification, Urban Desire, Diversity, Brooklyn, Park Slope, Fort Greene.

Please download the full article here: «Desire for Diversity and Difference in Gentrified Brooklyn».

Love thy neighbours, (but not too much). An Exploratory Study on Neighbouring in Italy. (Paper published in Italian)

Cidades, Comunidades e Territórios, 26 (Jun/2013), pp. 16 – 39

This paper is an exploratory analysis on the role of neighbours and informal neighbour support in Italy. To be more precise, we have investigated two aspects: at the individual level, we studied the perception of neighbours, while at the family level, we were interested in understanding what kind of supportive relationships can be established between neighbours.

In the first part, we develop our theoretical framework, describing a number of factors that can influence the form and content of the neighbourly relationship, citing some results. In the second part, we use data from the Indagine Multiscopo Istat conducted in the year 2003. Regarding the level of neighbours perception, results from binomial logistic regression models indicate that, within the same socio-demographic characteristics and place of residence, there is an effect exerted by urban dimension and level of education. Urban dimension appears to have a negative effect on positive neighbours perception. However, we also found that the higher the level of education, the more likely to have a positive perception of neighbours, and this effect is higher in metropolitan areas compared to other urban areas. Interestingly, supportive relationships among Italian families who experience housing proximity, represent not only an undemanding attitude, but also an infrequent one.

Keywords: Neighbours; Informal Neighbour Support; Family Solidarity; Residential Proximity to Kin; Italy.

Download the full paper by log into the Cidades website.

Atlantic Yards developer gets extension on construction from MTA

On October 3, Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner for the second time pushed back its obligation to formally start a new railyard to store and service Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains in Brooklyn near the Barclays Center. The delay raises new questions about the timeline for promised affordable housing. Read more here: Brooklyn Bureau, 10/15
Looking west from Vanderbilt Avenue at the two-block-long railyard, with Carlton Avenue in the mid-range and the arena in the background. The Storage Mart building at right would be demolished before construction over the railyard, while the yellow building at left, currently on the block that features the above-ground arena parking lot, would be demolished. After building three towers around the arena, Forest City Ratner plans to build four on the parking lot block.

Looking west from Vanderbilt Avenue at the two-block-long railyard, with Carlton Avenue in the mid-range and the arena in the background. The Storage Mart building at right would be demolished before construction over the railyard, while the yellow building at left, currently on the block that features the above-ground arena parking lot, would be demolished. After building three towers around the arena, Forest City Ratner plans to build four on the parking lot block.