Invisible Frontiers in Contemporary Cities: An Ethno-Semiotic Approach

By Massimo Leone.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Looking at the map of most contemporary cities, for example through “Google maps”, no fences, no barriers, no walls are visible. Yet, invisible urban frontiers exist, and divide ethnic groups, socio-economic classes, and cultural communities. Such frontiers are not virtual: they bring about the physical separation of different groups of people as effectively as visible frontiers do. Such frontiers are not neutral either: more often than not, they express the weakness of social cohesion within contemporary cities. A thorough analysis of these invisible frontiers, and possibly a competent elaboration of ways in which they could be bridged, are therefore both urgent. Nevertheless, how is it possible to study something that is invisible, that does not show on the map of cities? The paper will advocate the adoption, for this purpose, of the ethno-semiotic method, that combines ethnographic observation with semiotics (the discipline that studies signification and communication).

Keywords: Cities, Frontiers, Shibboleths, Social Division, Ethnography, Semiotics

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 11, pp.59-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.466MB).

Prof. Massimo Leone

Research Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Torino, Turin, Italy

Massimo Leone is Research Professor of Semiotics and Cultural Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Torino, Italy. He graduated in Communication Studies from the University of Siena, and holds a DEA in History and Semiotics of Texts and Documents from Paris VII, an MPhil in Word and Image Studies from Trinity College Dublin, a PhD in Religious Studies from the Sorbonne, a PhD in Art History from the University of Fribourg (CH). He was visiting scholar at the CNRS in Paris and at the CSIC in Madrid, Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley (USA), and Endeavour Research Visiting Scholar at the School of English, Performance, and Communication Studies at Monash University, Melbourne (AUS). His work focuses on the role of religion in contemporary cities. Massimo Leone has authored two books and numerous papers in semiotics and religious studies. He has lectured in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and USA.

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