How do cities change? how do we – their inhabitants – react to the transformations of our environments? The Research Group on Urban Peripheries of the Catalan Institute of Anthropology investigates on how to address the dynamics of change in the human landscapes that go along with the transformations in urban landscapes, i.e., the cities. Being there, in urban peripheries, i.e. far from the centers of power; building new relationships with its inhabitants; trying to understand, to explain, to describe, always towards a practical and public application of knowledge.

Grup de treball de l’Institut Català d’Antropologia

  • Members of the working group: Stefano PortelliIván RamírezSarai MartínJuan GraneroAinhara Del Pozo, Carlos Valiente, Lluis Ramoneda, Ricard Gratacòs y Agustín D’Onia.
  • Contributors: Núria Sánchez Armengol, Ulrike Viccaro, Gabriela Navas, Marc Morell, Livia Motterle, Elizabeth Lorenzi, Diamela Vicencio, José Mansilla, Caterina Borelli, Maribel Cadenas, Emanuela Bove, Sandra Capdevila Sardaña, Barbara Carfí, Marc Dalmau, Manuel Delgado, Irma Fajardo, Marco Fornarola, José María Manzano, Maite Marín, Isaac Marrero, Silvia Minarelli, Eduardo Soteras, Marco Luca Stanchieri, Carola Pagani, Anna Bosch Miralpeix.
  • Acknowledgements for this blog: Natalia Mancini, Joan Alvado, Adela Casals i Jorba, Cooperativa SUB, Ugo Nocera, Adolf Castaños, Joan Vila Puig, Stephen Bennetts, Fabrizio Rocco, Luca Rossomando, Manupa, Jordi Secall, Nacho Candela, Carles Sánchez Riera, Tomás (FPDS), Yasar Adanali, Maria Favà, Jaume Pagès, Fabiana Valdoski, Lucía Olmedo, Jordi Quiñonero, Alejandro Muchada, Rita Avila Cachado, Luca Giliberti, Elisabetta Antonucci, Matias Echanove, Gynna Millan, Leticia Giannella, Dani Malet Calvo, Antonio Cipriani, Marta Castillo Ramos, Gina Bruno, Stephen Bennetts, and many others.

The Urban Peripheries Research Group has the finality of studying the relationships between the physical transformation of the cities’ spaces and the changes in social structures of the communities who live in it. The feedback and feedforward between the forms assumed by “humanscape” and “urbanscape” (paisaje humano / paisaje urbano) had been the basis for many researches already realized separately by the members of the Research Group. The aim is to create a formal basis within which keep studying these kind of dynamics, until now centered on the town of Barcelona, but always with a comparative approach. The word “periphery”, far from having only a geographical meaning, represent a key for reflection in itself, about the center and the margins of the city; especially, about the contradicions or correspondences between social and spatial marginality on the urban territory.


An anthropological and historical study of the social dynamics that go along with the transformations of the cities;

The study and problematization of the relations of homology or feedback between physical space and social structures, in urban contexts;

The analysis of construction, mantainance and confrontation of the structures of power and domination that are embedded or embed these spatial and social organizations;

The historical comparison of processes of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of human communities through the modification of physical space;

The collection of documentary material, written or oral sources, about the processes we study, and the living interpretations of their actors; the comparative analysis of sources, with a perspective close to oral history;

The development of a methodology of research on dynamics of social change, to use under request of residents or technicians of a neighborhood.


The group works on different projects, geographically and temporarily based, with the aim to construct a common documentation on studied items.

The members meet every six months to ensure the correct development of the activities.

Every year, a report on the activities is published in the Buletin of the Catalan Institute of Anthropology, to share the results of the researches with other members of ICA who might be interested.


Urban space, urban transformation, social impact of urban renewal, power and margination, social exclusion, internal migrations, resistance and social movements, social architecture and social urbanism, “urbanalization”, gentrification, zoning.

Founding members:
Stefano Portelli
Núria Sànchez Armengol
Ulrike Viccaro