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. doi:10.1080/14782804.2017.1339590