Tournilhac, Capucine (2022) Sri Lankan Napoli: navigating borders in the porous city. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Resource language: English
Title: Sri Lankan Napoli: navigating borders in the porous city
Date: 8 June 2022
Number of Pages: 205
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: Architettura
Dottorato: Architettura
Ciclo di dottorato: 34
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
Date: 8 June 2022
Number of Pages: 205
Keywords: migrants, urban, navigation
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 08 - Ingegneria civile e Architettura > ICAR/20 - Tecnica e pianificazione urbanistica
Area 08 - Ingegneria civile e Architettura > ICAR/21 - Urbanistica
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 05:50
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 11:05

Collection description

In Napoli, in the early 2020s, a Sri Lankan resident claimed that “Napoli was like Sri Lanka”, and that despite his very recent arrival and his lack of (what is usually understood as) Neapolitan-ness or napoletanità, “Napoli was his hometown”. This research stems from the contrast between two constructs, “Sri Lankan Napoli” and “Neapolitan Napoli", and the puzzle that their coexistence poses. Drawing on a cumulative six months of ethnographic fieldwork in Napoli, between March 2019 and November 2021, this research locates itself in the conjunctural space of that puzzle, from which it puts together a trio of theoretically informed research questions.The first question addresses border-crossing and the mobility practices that accompany it. What were the multiple borders and the boundaries, this dissertation asks, that Sri Lankan migrants needed to negotiate and move across, to achieve residency in Napoli? Where were Napoli and Sri Lanka located in a punctured borderscape through which transnational fields connected, produced and rescaled those localities? The second question focuses on residing in cities. What was the relation that Sri Lankan migrants had to mediate, knit and curate between themselves and Napoli, such that they could harness the city to their practical purposes, however partially and fallibly so? How does a material and practical understanding of “residing” as “navigating” help supersede static categories of belonging like “integration” and “community”? The third question focuses on urban diversity and identity. How does thinking with a construct like “Sri Lankan Napoli” shed light on that other imagined object, “Neapolitan Napoli”? By considering Napoli “as Sri Lankan”, how may we de-naturalize predefined and limited conceptions that govern the ways in which Napoli is, and must be, “Neapolitan”? The research findings can be summed up in three arguments. First, this dissertation offers a methodology and a set of theoretical tools to work at turning the initial paradox of the foreign resident on its head — operating as if it were not paradoxical in the first place. In the case at hand, it begins unpacking assumptions as to who and what counts as “Neapolitan”, mapping out leads into other ways of formulating questions of diversity in urban spaces. This methodology, ethnographic in nature, I characterize as “taking Napoli as method” and choosing “people as sites”. Drawing on my collection of ethnographic material, the second argument posits that residing in a city as dense as Napoli involves bridging and suturing between discrepant, simultaneous times. I suggest that narratives that ascribe pre-defined temporalities to their objects are misleading. Instead, my research findings point at altogether different, contradictory times, that coexist in Napoli, and require various forms of labor and mediating practices from its residents. Further, I observed how long-distance nationalist ties and allegiances provided a moving repertoire of skills and aspirations that could make migrants as savvy as any resident, destabilizing identity constructs like napoletanità. This enables me to argue that while migrants are generally portrayed as subaltern actors, they in fact enact convincing and effective claims to the city they reside in, producing and rescaling it as they do so. Eventually, through the lens of some of its Sri Lankan residents, this dissertation contributes to a “cosmopolitical” archive of Napoli, one that might offer new horizons for planning practices that engages with urban diversity and migration.


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