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Mediterranean Neighbourhoods: Is There an Alternative Governance Model for Local Identities?


Back in 2002, Le Galès acknowledged that European cities are composed of increasingly diverse social and cultural groups. As Beck and many others state, most world cities are experiencing a deep change, due to cosmopolitanism and globalization. However, there is one scale of analysis that might at first appear entirely unrelated to the new emerging spatialities (conurbations, city regions, post-metropolises). This scale is the neighbourhood, which looks like a relic of a now lost time. The authors believe that neighbourhoods host the majority of urban social (sometimes ‘insurgent’) movements, along with interesting negotiations of governance processes: therefore, they cannot be rejected as useless and outdated realities, even within contemporary European cities. The main topic the authors discuss concerns the applicability of the traditional Anglo-American notion of neighbourhood to Mediterranean cities. Is globalization determining the diffusion of just one model of neighbourhood (i.e. the Anglo-American) all over the world? Or is there a distinctive Mediterranean model of local identities for our cities? Starting from the analysis of case studies from Italy and Spain, the paper suggests the need of describing Mediterranean neighbourhoods in a new way, while strengthening their role as the ‘connecting ground between private and public spaces’ (de Certeau).