The second earthquake

31/07/2018 admin 0
"Emidio di Treviri" is a working group performing research action in the areas hit by the 2016-2017 earthquake in central Italy. They are showing how the political management of post-catastrophe housing, consumption, health, are increasing social inequalities to the point of creating a social earthquake, even worse than the real one.

All the 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.

Knowledge is in the neighborhoods

23/10/2017 admin 0
Neighborhoods are the collective ability of people to acknowledge the existence of the other. No surprise they are constantly under attack. With them, also the knowledge they represent are attacked, and the words and concepts that in neighborhoods are born and grow.

The city and the skin: public space and pudic space

06/08/2017 admin 0
The skin is the deepest thing there is. The fissures of the skin, the striate wrinkles of the flesh, reveal the word and the action. In the entrails of the streets, in the corners of the small alleys, urban life palpitates in revenge against urban planning.

To repopulate is not a crime!

18/05/2017 admin 0
All across Europe, hundreds of people are re-building self-sufficiency in lands that nation-states devote to huge infrastructures, often useless or harmful. Is the occupation of abandoned villages an anti-urban choice? In a system of production that sacrifices so much territory to the needs of the city, we should rather consider these places as urban peripheries.

First International Conference on Anarchist Geographies

05/01/2017 admin 0
The choice of doing the first conference in an Italian small town like Reggio Emilia, where an established local anarchist movement already promoted events and publications on anarchist geographers is instrumental to the capital tasks of continuing a discussion among scholars and militants from different linguistic and cultural areas, and ensuring discussions involve grassroots movements and militant situations outside the academy.

War and gentrification in Kurdistan

17/10/2016 admin 0
War and urban renewal mingle in south-eastern Turkey, where the government wages its war against the kurdish movement also through the demolition of traditional neighborhoods and the displacement of residents in huge public-housing blocks.

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.

Crossing the capital of culture: summer in Marseille

26/08/2016 admin 0
What happened with the Euromediterranée, an ambitious project that costed over 3,5 billion euros, and that transformed 480 hectars? Can we get rid of it by simply calling it gentrification? A commentary by two Italian planners, R. Marchini & A. Sotgia.

Same old story in Milan: The destruction of Isola

07/08/2016 admin 0
In crossing the Isola neighborhood in Milan, whoever knows Barcelona suffers a kind of déja vu. The same buildings, the same companies, the same destruction as in Poblenou in 2004. Nouvel is replaced by Boeri, and the Universal Forum of Cultures with the Expo 2015.

The Idroscalo, a self-grown neighborhood on the coast of Rome

02/05/2016 admin 0
Few people know that Rome has a coastal line. Where the Tiber river meets the sea, lies the last self-built neighborhood of the Italian capital: Idroscalo, where Pasolini died, and where 500 families have been fighting during half a century against the threat of urban renewal.
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