Welcome to my website. I do research, teach and write in the Social Sciences. My fieldwork on race, racism and cities extended across Europe (Kosovo, Romania, Italy, the UK, France and Germany), and I currently work as a Lecturer/Assistant Professor of Sociology at Glasgow University, UK.
In 2017 I published Racial Cities: Governance and the Segregation of Romani People in Urban Europe, a multi-focal ethnographic book which bridges Race Critical Theories and Urban Studies from a global and historical perspective, to explain the post-WWII emergence and persistence of deprived and segregated urban areas across Europe, which are stigmatized as "Gypsy urban areas". I then co-curated a series of thematic collections on the relationships between urban spaces, the state and everyday forms of domination, always with a view of critically enlarging both the theoretical horizon and the typically West-oriented empirical focus. I currently am co-editing a volume and writing a monograph, both aimed at understanding, from multiple perspectives, European urbanism as part of the global history of race.
I am active in international research and education projects, including the Summer School on Black Europe that takes place every year at IIRE (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). I value collaborative actions and projects with artists, journalists, activists and researchers - for collaborations or for any query, get in touch.
My broad research interests lie at the intersections of urban life, race and the state. I am also interested in the histories of the Left; ethnographic thinking and practice; Socialism and Postsocialism; the making of Europe as both a polity and an ideal, and the historical sociology and anthropology of colonialism. These are my current research projects:
Provincializing European Cities (2019-2021) - Edited volume with Noa Ha.
Building on a homonymous ISA-RC21 conference session, Provincializing European Cities aims to open up new, critical and global perspectives on urbanism in Europe, and to enrich debates on geographies of knowledge production. Chakrabarty's seminal Provincializing Europe (2000) fundamentally exposed the limits of European enlightenment in fully understanding global transformations of power imbalances, and the book has been highly influential across the humanities and social sciences. Relatedly, debates in Urban Studies over the last fifteen years have highlighted the necessity of moving away from West-centric urban theory and engaging with typically "off-the-map" cities, primarily cities in the Global South. However, neither Chakrabarty's claim, nor recent theoretical shifts in urban studies have to date had a significant impact on established theories of European cities that still primarily rely on Weber's The City (1921), and typically leave not only colonialism and the construction of race but also postsocialist contexts, such as Eastern Europe, off the map.
Planning White Europe (2017-2022) - Monograph.
This book project builds on Racial Cities to analyze from a global and historical perspective the relations between urban planning and urban social heterogeneity, a.k.a. "urban diversity", in Europe. My standpoint takes planning as both an urban phenomenon and an analytic for examining horizons, desires, longings and aspirations within and beyond city life. My two-year field-based analysis focused on three urban planning projects in the 21st century: (i) the 2016 Görlitzer Park action plan in Berlin, (ii) the 2008-2017 Nomads Plan in Rome, and (iii) the 2015-2018 mosque project in Bucharest. The historical analysis will trace global connections between urban planning as it was first experimented in colonial contexts, and planning knowledge and practice in Europe from the beginning of decolonization to the three planning projects under scrutiny in the empirical part. The aim of the book is to contribute to (re)theorizing Europe as a racial project from a global and comparative perspective, by documenting the ways in which race, gender, class and sexuality function in shaping urban horizons, desires, longings and aspirations in a continent which is largely considered void of racial hierarchies and thinking, especially after 1945. Planning White Europe will ultimately expose Europe's whiteness in the 21st century by explaining how European cities became and remain(ed) white.
Racial cities: Governance and the segregation of Romani people in urban Europe. Abingdon and New York: Routledge (Foreword by Éric Fassin), 2017.
Going beyond race-blind approaches to spatial segregation in Europe, Racial Cities argues that race is the logic through which stigmatized and segregated "Gypsy urban areas" have emerged and persisted after World War II. Building on nearly a decade of ethnographic and historical research in Romania, Italy, France and the UK, Giovanni Picker casts a series of case studies into the historical framework of circulations and borrowings between colony and metropole since the late nineteenth century.
Introduction available here
By focusing on socio-economic transformations and social dynamics in contemporary Cluj-Napoca, Pescara, Montreuil, Florence and Salford, Picker detects four local segregating mechanisms, and comparatively investigates resemblances between each of them and segregation in French Rabat, Italian Addis Ababa, and British New Delhi. These multiple global associations across space and time serve as an empirical basis for establishing a solid bridge between race critical theories and urban studies.Racial Cities is the first comprehensive analysis of the segregation of Romani people in Europe, providing a fine-tuned and in-depth explanation of this phenomenon.
Racialized Labour in Romania: Spaces of Marginality at the Periphery of Global Capitalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2018. Co-edited with Enikő Vincze, Norbert Petrovici, and Cristina Raţ.
This book critically examines the making and persistence of impoverished areas at the margins of Romanian cities since the late 1980s. Through their historical outlook on political economy and social policy, combined with media and discourse analysis, the eight essays of Racialized Labour in Romania forge new and cutting-edge perspectives on how social class formation, spatial marginalization and racialization intersect. The empirical focus on cities and the labour and the plight of the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe provides a vantage point for establishing connections between urban and global peripheries, and for reimagining the global order from its margins. The book will appeal to scholars, students, journalists and policy makers interested in Labour; Race and Ethnicity; Cities; Poverty; Social Policy; Political Economy and European Studies.
Edited Special Issues
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
2021 The Italian Postracial Archive. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(2): 195-214. With Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau'.
2020 [Commentary] Anti-gitanismo, conocimiento racial y amnesia colonial . SOCIOLOGÍA HISTÓRICA, (10):237-246.
2020 Racist Morbidities: A Conjunctural Analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic. European Societies, Ahead of Print. With Karim Murji.
2019 [Editorial] Race and Place. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 39(11/12), 913-922. With Karim Murji.
2019 Sovereignty beyond the State: Exception and Informality in a Western European City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43(3), 576-581.
2019 [Editorial] Racial Urbanities: Towards a Global Cartography. Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 25(1): 1-10. With Karim Murji and Manuela Boatcă.
2017 [Editorial] Urban informality and confinement: Toward a relational framework. International Sociology. 32(4): 532–544. With Silvia Pasquetti.
2017 Rethinking Ethnographic Comparison: Two Cities, Five Years, One Ethnographer. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 46(3): 2, 63-284.
2016 ‘That neighbourhood is an ethnic bomb!” The emergence of an urban governance apparatus in Western Europe. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(2): 136 –148.
2015 [Editorial] Durable Camps: The State, the Urban, the Everyday. CITY: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 19(5): 681-88. With Silvia Pasquetti.
2015 Colonial Refractions: The “Gypsy Camp” as a Spatio-Racial Political Technology, CITY: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 19(5): 741-752. With David Smith and Margaret Greenfields.
2014 Abnormalising minorities. The state and expert knowledge addressing the Roma in Italy, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 21(2): 185-201. With Gabriele Roccheggiani.
2013 "Țiganu-i țigan": Verbal Icons and Urban Marginality in a Post-socialist European City, Civilisations. Revue internationale d’anthropologie e de sciences humaines, 62(1): 51-70, 2013.
2013. La biopolitica della differenza. Un’antropologia delle politiche dei campi nomadi di Firenze, DADA. Rivista di antropologia postglobale, 2: 99-110.
2013. Sedentarisation and 'the right to nomadism': The urban and regional fabric of nomad camps in Italy (1967-1995), Zeitgeshichte. Journal of Contemporary History, 40(5): 276-286.
2011 'Welcome 'in'. Left-wing Tuscany and Romani migrants' (1988-2007), Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 16(5): 607-620.
2006 Fieldwork between Distance and Intimacy: Reflections on a Photo Exhibition on the Streets, ACHAB. Rivista di Antropologia, 6, 33-42.
2005 Le due rive di Mitrovica. Il ponte sul fiume Ibar/Ibër come frontiera interna. Conflitti Globali, (2):119-129.
2015 Sedentarizzazione e 'diritto al nomadismo': la genesi dei campi nomadi in Italia, Historia Magistra. Rivista di Storia Critica, 7(18): 73-84. (TRANSLATION of "Sedentarization and the 'right to nomadism'")
2019 Racial Segregation: Camps for Roma and Slums in Italy. In Cortés Gómez, I. and End, M. (eds.) Dimensions of Antigypsyism in Europe. Brussels: European Network Against Racism (ENAR), 180-197. With Elisabetta Vivaldi.
2018 Conclusion: (Re)centring Labour, Class and Race. In Vincze, E., Petrovici, N., Rat, C. and Picker, G. (eds) Racialized Labour in Romania: Spaces of Marginality at the Periphery of Global Capitalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 107-226.
2017 Post-Socialist Europe and its 'Constitutive Outside': Ethnographic Resemblances for a Comparative Research Agenda. In Krase, J. and Uherek, Z. (eds) Diversity and Local Contexts: Urban Space, Borders and Migration. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 39-53.
2017 Social Inclusion/Exclusion. In Bryan S. Turner, Chang Kyung-Sup, Cynthia F. Epstein, Peter Kivisto, William Outhwaite, and J. Michael Ryan (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory. Oxford: Blackwell,
2013 Policy Logic and the Spatial Segregation of Roma in Europe: The Cases of Florence (Italy) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania). In Zincone, G. and Ponzo, I. (eds)
How European Cities Craft Immigrant Integration: Something to Learn. Brussels: Foundation for European Progressive Studies, 40-57.
2012 Left-Wing Progress? Neo-nationalism and the Case of Romany Migrants in Italy. In Stewart, M. (ed) The Gypsy ‘Menace’. Populism and the New anti-Gypsy Politics. London: Hurst & Co., 81-94.
2012 Territori postcoloniali ai limiti. I campi per rom in Italia e Francia tra doxa e storia. In Galeotti, M. E. and Ceva, E. (a cura di) Lo spazio del rispetto. Milano: Bruno Mondadori, 96-121
2011 Inclusione, esclusione, enclusione. Per un'etnografia della governance di rom migranti in Italia. In Zago, M. e Baldini, S. (a cura di) Il mosaico rom. Specificità culturali e governance multilivello. Milano: Franco Angeli, 77-87.
2010 Nomads’ Land? Political cultures and nationalist stances vis-à-vis Roma in Italy. In Stewart, M. and Rövid, M. (eds) Multidisciplinary Approaches to Romany Studies. Budapest: Central European University Press, 211-227.
2020Ethno-graphing Race and RacismBA Sociology | University of Glasgow
2019Global InequalitiesSix lectures | BA Sociology | University of Glasgow
Racial Justice and the CityMA Sociology | University of Glasgow
Class and StratificationMA Sociology | University of Glasgow
2018Global InequalitiesSix lectures | BA Sociology | University of Glasgow
2017Sociology of Race and RacismMA Sociology | University of Birmingham (syllabus)
Displacement: Anthropology of CampsMA | Faculty of Cultural Studies | European University Viadrina
2016Urban Anthropology of EuropeBA | Faculty of Cultural Studies | European University Viadrina
Sociology of Race and RacismBA | Faculty of Cultural Studies | European University Viadrina
2015Urban Anthropology of EuropeBA | Faculty of Cultural Studies | European University Viadrina
2013Public SociologyMA Sociology | Higher School of Economics (Moscow)
2012Doing EthnographyMA Sociology | Higher School of Economics (Moscow)
2010 & 2011Embodied Nationalisms: Ethnography and Nation BuildingMA Social Anthropology | University of Milan-Bicocca