Urban Research in Comics Form: Exploring Spaces, Agency and Narrative Maps in Italian Marginalized Neighbourhoods


  • Adriano Cancellieri University Iuav of Venice, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5414-4937
  • Giada Peterle DiSSGeA, Unversity of Padua https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9574-531X




Comics-based research, ethnography, reflexivity, maps, space, agency


This paper reflects on the limits and potentialities of “comics-based research” (Kuttner et al., 2020) in marginalised urban contexts, through the interdisciplinary and collaborative perspective of an urban sociologist and a cultural geographer-cartoonist. The analysis starts from the empirical example of the comic book anthology Quartieri. Viaggio al Centro delle Periferie Italiane, which is devoted to five “peripheral” neighbourhoods in Italy and was realised through collaboration between researchers and cartoonists. The paper focuses on the way in which research activities and spatial analyses were influenced by the narrative and stylistic choices dictated by the “spatial grammar” of comics. Through reading the short comics story about the Arcella neighbourhood in Padua, we reflect on how comics allowed us to explore the role of everyday life spaces and of different spatial agencies and spatial structures in the area. Focusing on the role of maps in the narration, the paper further aims to make some relations between graphic and narrative choices in the story and spatial analysis visible. Quartieri is an empirical example that helps us to move beyond the idea of using comics to merely disseminate academic knowledge differently. Despite their prolific accessibility, indeed, comics seem to help us engaging differently with the contemporary debates around the spatial, material and affective turn.


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How to Cite

Cancellieri, A., & Peterle, G. . (2021). Urban Research in Comics Form: Exploring Spaces, Agency and Narrative Maps in Italian Marginalized Neighbourhoods. Sociologica, 15(1), 211–239. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/12776



Re-formats: Envisioning Sociology