Place – making strategies in the contemporary peripheral novel

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Patricia Garcia


Satellite neighborhoods and towns have long been considered residual non – places in literary urban studies. Over the past number of decades, however, these homo­geneous and densely  – built peripheral areas, home to social housing and to large migrant working  – class communities, have emerged as literary features in a pheno­menon that spans across national traditions. Drawing on the recent scholarly appraisal of these marginal spaces (Ameel, Finch and Salmela, 2015), this paper argues that it is precisely the peripheral and borderland position of satellite urban spaces that renders them important sites in the imagining of complex urban spatialities beyond the traditional hierarchy of dominating core versus marginalized fringes. Through a comparative analysis of Irish, English, Catalan and Spanish novels by Roddy Doyle, Dermot Bolger, Zadie Smith, Javier Pérez Andújar, Albert Lladó and Najat El Hachm set in the peripheries of Dublin, London and Barcelona this study will identify common patterns in this contemporary corpus by focusing on the following: the dynamics of material borders and contact zones in the generation of a sense of belonging, the tension between geographical center and periphery, place – making strategies that restore dignity to these seemingly desolate, run – down areas and the maze of intersections (particularly gender, class and ethnicity) that problematize space – bound identities across generations. 

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Urban Borderlands – Comparative Perspectives