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Re-writing complexity through fragments: mapping Milan in the twenty-first century

Rorato, Laura


Dr Laura Rorato
Senior Lecturer in Italian/Year abroad coordinator for Italian


This article engages with the powerful nature of individual fragments in challenging the stereotypical images of the city, in particular those images that tie Milan almost exclusively to fashion, design, or events like Expo 2015. Using a series of diverse texts devoted to Milan during the last five years, this article argues that in order to understand Milan in the 21st century one needs to start at grassroots level, by giving voice to its inhabitants, letting them talk about their relationships with various parts of the city, about the changes undergone by certain neighbourhoods and how people adapted to them. Despite an attention to fragments, to the individual life, all the aforementioned publications stress the need to abandon excessively individualistic positions to rediscover a way of connecting, a sense of community, and the importance of promoting tolerance and multiculturalism. In this context, graffiti are particularly important as “writing” engages with the local space of the street but at the same time is a global phenomenon (Brighenti 2010, 317), thus raising interesting questions about identity and place-making in a globalised world. Milan is an ideal case study for this kind of reflection as in the late 1980s and 1990s graffiti were frequently associated with social centres and thus their subversive nature was inevitably emphasised.


Rorato, L. (2017). Re-writing complexity through fragments: mapping Milan in the twenty-first century. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 25(4), 495-509.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 22, 2017
Publication Date Oct 2, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 2, 2019
Journal Journal of contemporary European studies
Print ISSN 1478-2804
Electronic ISSN 1478-2790
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 495-509
Keywords Milan, Expo 2015, Fragments, Mapping, Graffiti, Multiculturalism, Marginal
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:


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