Auto-construction: for an autonomy of housing

04/09/2018 admin 0
John F. C. Turner (*1927) is an English architect known for its engagement with the study and practice of self-construction. He was influenced by Patrick Geddes and anarchism, he studied in London's Architectural Association, and very soon developed an interpretation of planning and architecture that does not overlook the relationship with its users

All cities are possessed

16/02/2018 admin 0

The aim is not to heal a sick space, but to free it from its evil condition: to save it. Urban space must be regenerated, its vices turned into virtues, its inhabitants redeemed from sin. The real enemy is not disorder, chaos, or poverty; the real enemy is the devil itself” (Manuel Delgado, “Todas las ciudades están poseídas”)

There is an intimate link between cities and the devil. All cities were born to contrast the terror of the wilderness, the dangers of the wasteland, and they are built around an axis mundi that protects its inhabitants from evil. Inevitably, they all betrayed this task. Inside them, other forces proliferate, more perverse than those of the wilderness. The bustle of the city, its  promiscuous and uncontrolled intermingling of bodies, ideas, and actions, cause a moral panic far more terrifying than the dangers of nature.

All the recurring calls to regenerate and renovate the city, or at least the more disturbing parts of it, are always calls to expel the devil. The words that are used for it – culture, order, law – are apotropaic, like psalms or mantras that are pronounced in order to contrast the Evil by evoking its opposite, a ‘Good’ as imaginary and dreamlike as the other. Urban renewal is an exorcism: it aims to chase the demons away, to kill the unwanted and uninvited ‘others’, to purify the body of the city, and to return it clean and renovated to its legitimate owners – those imaginary and neutral ‘subjects’ to whom public space is thought to belong.

No violence is too much, to achieve this task. Whoever tries to oppose the sacred duty to chase away the Evil one, will be considered as dangerous as those who defended the witches, the sabbas, or heresy.

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Raval, the “Xino”, the other. The Evil.

Other cities, other demons:

  • Chiara ZANASI (2016) Demoni e metropoli, Manifestolibri, on the christian exorcist father Amorth, active in Rome until few years ago. A presentation of the book by Stefano Portelli, in a conference in the University of Rome.
  • Federica DI GIACOMO (2016) “Liberami“, documentary on the exorcist father Cataldo, active in Palermo. Here’s a critique to the movie by another exorcist, father Dermine.
  • Andrew Alan JOHNSON (2014), Ghosts of the New City, University of Hawaii Press. Ghosts pentrated into the imaginary of the old buildings in Chiang Mai (Thailand); but the new urbanization are not free from evil either.
  • Michael HERZFELD (2016), Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity in Bangkok, University of Chicago Press. In Bangkok, however, residents of the ancient settlement of Pom Mahakan, under eviction, claim their right to stay, as the guardians of the shrines to the ancestors of the city. The spirits that protect the city would not agree with the demolition of the neighborhood.
  • Ernesto DE MARTINO (2009 (1959)) Magic, A Theory From The South. HAU Books recently translated into English this classic of the great Italian ethnographer, whose original title was South and Magic. The complete text is available online! And here’s a review by Stefano Portelli in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2017 [PDF]. The book includes an extraordinary chapter on popular magic in Naples and on the ambivalence of Italian Enlightenment towards it. Another very important work is its posthumous book, incomplete: La fine del mondo (Einaudi, 1977).
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Where the devil hid, now there is a Rambla.

More about Barcelona’s Vila Olímpica

15/09/2016 admin 0
The Vila Olímpica is the biggest planned intervention of Barcelona in the 20th century. Its construction required the demolition of the old buildings and the eviction of its residents, as in the hygienist urban planning of the 19th century. However, some exiled memories survived the destruction, and come back to life whenever one of the evicted returns in his/her former neighborhood.

Repensar Bonpastor: finally, the book!

25/04/2016 admin 0
It is a pleasure to announce that finally we managed to publish the book Repensar Bonpastor: Tejiendo historias de Barcelona desde el umbral de las casas baratas, a collective work that is the product and testimony of the Competition of ideas for the neighborhood of Bon Pastor, on which we had been working for many years.

Group photo in Montjuic

09/03/2016 admin 0
Pierpaolo Pasolini, Juan Goytisolo and Salvador Clotas in front of Barcelona's old slum of Can Tunis, that were demolished in 2004. A photo taken in 1968, from a post on Oriol Nel·lo's blog about "language, popular culture, and the revolutionary subject" (in catalan).

The discreet urbanism of the bourgeoisie

05/10/2015 admin 0
As José Mansilla writes, in focusing on the rising, the growth and evolution of the middle class we understand how the so-called "progressive" urbanism in Barcelona took this turn to real estate speculation and privatizations. Will this process continue, or will we have the chance to see some change?

Horizontal anthropology in the margins of Barcelona

30/03/2015 admin 0
Stefano Portelli's La ciudad horizontal (Bellaterra, 2015), a research on Bon Pastor's 'casas baratas': a neighborhood where no serious fieldwork can be led without getting involved, without challenging the existing barriers, without revealing clearly the aims behind the research itself. In this case, those are to influence urban planning, to stop the demolition of the neighborhood, and to demand an active role for the residents in the transformations of their territories.

To resist is to win: 10 years in the Forat

23/06/2014 admin 0
It has been ten years from that memorable night in which, after many months suffering the insolence of the city council, the continuous police harassment, and the arrogance of real estate investors, finally we returned them the blow. When various hundreds of inhabitants and sympathizers demolished the wall with which mayor Joan Clos ordered to encapsulate the Forat de la Vergonya, we understood that revolt is nothing more than the ultimate possible rational act against a governmental order based on the dispossession of the commons.

The Rumba of Barcelona (the “Can Vies effect”)

26/05/2014 admin 0
Requested by the metropolitan transportation authority TMB, catalan autonomic police evicted the historical Can Vies squat in Sants neighbourhood (Barcelona). But the eviction caused a wave of popular uprisings that lasted five days and five nights, and that ended with an attempt to collectively reconstruct the social centre.
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More on Barcelona’s city center: “The Melody of Raval”, by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

09/01/2011 admin 0
"Here we were all born in leftover neighborhoods, rounded by leftovers, waiting to grow up, to get old, or better said, to deconstruct ourselves; so we can receive all your sociologists, all your social psychologists, your substitute mayor, your worst dressed politician, the sons of your good neighborhoods that will give us examples on how to use abilities and efforts to help us out of the leftover neighborhoods; this is, you give us your leftover social science, your leftover psychology, your leftover mayor, your leftover solidarity, even your leftover fear, for sometimes you think that you yourselves could have been born in the leftover neighborhoods, that you could be leftovers yourselves; this is why you come down here to look at us playing the part of the assisted classes, useless even for production because robotics replaced us, and because our condition of leftovers can't compete anymore with leftovers from even more impoverished parts of the planet.

“El Bon Pastón”

18/08/2010 admin 0

This short video documentary was made in 2004 by Núria Sánchez Armengol and Luciano Literas, starting from a series of recordings taken in the neighborhood of Bon Pastor in Barcelona. The popular casas baratas, 784 one storey “low-income” houses built in 1929 for immigrant workers, were undergoing the polemic “Urban renewal Plan” that entails the complete demolition of the neighborhood. In this documentary you can listen to neighbors’ voices, some agree, other disagree with the demolitions; while a special highlight is given to the resistance of “Avis del Barri” association: elder inhabitants of the “casas baratas” who struggle against the City Council’s Urban Renewal Plan. The same year, a few km further, the same City Council was building the “Forum 2004” and the residential estate “Diagonal Mar”. The video presents a critical reflection on these processes and on the impact of real estate speculation and urban renewal on Barcelona’s residents who are involved in it.

http://dvactivisme.blip.tv/file/493383/

Des del Ressentiment (Barcelona, 2006)

14/08/2010 admin 0

Short documentary film we realized in 2006 on the factory of Can Ricart (Barcelona), under the effects of the “22@” urban renewal plan. All the industries and organizations that used the XVIIIth century stucture had to leave, as well as most of the inhabitants of the surrounding buildings. …