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LA ROCCA Marco

Purebred Siciliano, I weighed anchor at 16 in order to attend the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino (Trieste); I then moved to the UK where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Spanish at the University of Sussex (Brighton), which included a Year Abroad Project at the Universidad de Salamanca (Spain). Not the biggest fan of tea, I returned to Italy: can't stay away from a nicely done cappuccino. The 2006 Winter Olympics and the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy had constantly been keeping the city of Turin under the spotlight: intrigued, there I moved. Once in Turin, I was about to half-heartedly enrol in the MA in International Relations, when I gave a closer look at the degree in Political Science and noticed that it offered a course titled Lifestyles and urban spaces; I also figured that a bone-up of both my Economics and Law background would do no harm, so I enrolled in the MA in Political Science. Best decision ever. The course on Lifestyles and urban spaces gave me a sound introduction to sociology, which was later consolidated with the help of a bunch of sociology freaks who, needless to say, became my closest friends. In this context, a key-note lecture by almighty Giovanni Semi, who was destined to become my thesis supervisor, introduced me to my ever since life-partner: gentrification. At the same time, I also started to deepen my knowledge on the academic debate over urban space and the LGBTQ community, which I more thoroughly investigated in my final thesis, in which I analysed the possible relationship between cases of gentrification and the LGBTQ community in Turin, with an in-depth case-study on the Quadrilatero Romano area. Together with the above-mentioned fr...iends we created a group called Fughe and organised several debates, film screenings and events, each tackling a specific social or sociological topic; among these, the urban always received significant coverage. While conducting the research for my thesis, I also grew closer to the LGBTQ activism and became involved in several of its cultural activities. A few days before submitting my MA thesis, I received an email from the Almalaurea national service advertising a PhD in Urban Studies at the Gran Sasso Science Institute in L'Aquila: here we are, ready to write this new promising chapter.

I'm helping Gloria sell the old apartment that she and Manny lived in before she met Jay. It's in an up-and-coming neighborhood with a distinct multicultural bent that's undergoing an exciting urban renewal. That's a fancy way of saying the gays found it”.

(Modern Family, “A Hard Jay's Night”)

I have been passionate about geography, and cities in particular, since I was a kid. First and foremost, I have a strong pedestrian urban dimension: I love to explore the places I live in or visit by untiringly walking around and through them. My main research interests deal, on the one hand, with gentrification and all forms of urban regeneration, together with strategies of urban branding and city-marketing; on the other hand, I am interested in the city as a potential emancipatory space, especially in relation to issues of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. These two fields of investigation fruitfully interact in the academic debate over the so-called gay gentrification: it would be then very interesting both to interpret this debate in the light of more recent gender-related approaches, like the queer ones, and also to apply the theorisation on gay gentrification onto more and more non-Anglo-Saxon urban contexts and societies, so as to identify their specificities and try to put forward new interpretative frameworks.

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