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Calabrian contradictions: culture as an excuse

22/12/2012 admin 0
The traditional feast is like a litmus test: it changes naturally as the group that takes part in it changes, writes Angelo Maggio, Calabrian photographer after participating to the festa della Vergine at Polsi some years ago. Popular feasts change, tradition is reinvented and rewritten, according to new needs. After the nineties, in Calabria (Italy), the "second folk revival" (studied by australian anthropologist Stephen Bennetts), converted festivals in an excuse to attract tourists and money to small villages mostly depopulated: but this commercialization reduces Calabrian popular culture to "tarantelle", excluding all the rest of local popular traditions, that end up homologated in a common regional-popular denominator. At the same time, much more dangerous manipulations are taking place. A series of sinister individuals linked to mafia "clans" are publishing articles, books and records presenting 'ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia) as a "cultural" phenomenon, linked to folklore and popular traditions of Calabria, thus giving a kind of ethnic legitimacy to the cruelty of clans in front of public opinion, even internationally. And meanwhile, local anthropologists keep classifying ethnomusicological variants, and show little concern to all this public manipulations of their object of study.
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Once we made news: the forgotten battles

21/06/2012 admin 0
It is been decades now that in Barcelona whole neighborhoods are demolished without the media even mentioning them any more. If someday these situations "made news", soon oblivion covers back their memory. A recent example was Can Tunis neighborhood, whose demolition was surrounded by silence in summer 2004; but in 1993, another neighborhood in the same Zona Franca district, the cases barates of Eduard Aunós fell leaving almost no trace in the city collective memory. The media were too busy celebrating the success of the Olympic Games, as well as years later they were covering the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. A group of former inhabitants of Eduard Aunós have found this old reportage: it reminds us a forgotten battle, astonishingly similar to the one now taking place around the demolition of anouther group of cases barates: Bon Pastor. Someday, this one too will be forgotten.
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The Pinheirinho massacre

31/01/2012 admin 0
In the morning of january 22nd, 2012, 2000 military police broke into the Pinheirinho settlement in Sao Paulo (Brasil) with helicopters, tanks, horses, tear gases, and began the eviction. Almost 10.000 people had been living there for about 8 yeras; they had just regularized their housing titles. But the eviction was promoted by a company whose director fled the country in 1990 for finantial crimes, and that now needs the land to speculate, keeping them empty. In preparation of 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, some 170.000 people are under eviction all around Brasil. Residents of Pinheirinho strenuously resisted the eviction, that ended with 7 dead, and tens of wounded and arrested. Public houses had been promised to the evicted, now stacked in churches or gyms; but "those in charge of building social houses are part of the same bloodthirsty, prejudiced and deceitful elites as the governants..."
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“Negros” of the periphery of Barcelona: young Dominicans’ stigma and resistance

26/10/2011 admin 0
…blacks always worked like 'niggers'; blacks are the ones who work hardest, because they want to live like whites do…” Simón, 16 years old, living in L’Hospitalet (BCN) from age 9
Los Kitasellos is the name of one of the youth groups in the outskirts of Barcelona with which anthropologist Luca Giliberti (University of Lleida – FPU-ME researcher) is doing his fieldwork. Freeing themselves from the mark ("quitarse el sello") of being different, means for many young Dominicans in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat resisting against the stigma with which they are labelled, even by the institutions - in political campaigns, constant police raids, newspapers always in search of Hispanic gangs - and convert this discrimination in an emblem of black identity.
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Foreigner Rome (the uses of diversity)

23/04/2011 admin 0
[/caption] Zoning means that some parts of the city, for real estate or urbanistic reasons, are devoted to certain groups of population: if there are neighborhoods where immigrants live, it's obvious that the schools of these neighborhoods have to cope with much more children born from foreigners. Such is the situation in Torpignattara, in the east periphery of Rome: a primary school is undergoing a series of public debates abounding in words like "ghetto", "emergency", "alarm", "banlieue". While right and left-wing politicians declare themselves worried for the school's "italianity", its teachers are carrying out their work worthy of the best italian pedogogical tradition, using diversity as a resort to supply to the massive cuts and decadence of public education. Until when they will call them "foreigners"? Rome is changing, and while some use this transformation to boost war among the poor, others understood its potential to come through the cultural and political stagnation of the so-called "Italian society".
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The quality of life in Naples: between Pomigliano and Posillipo

14/01/2011 admin 0
[/caption] “An oasis of luxury in the capital of mafia" was the title chosen by a peruan newspaper in publishing this photo reportage about Naples' Circolo Posillipo. But in spite of many elements that might make us believe it, we can't pretend that Napols is just like a stereotype of a South American city, where the rich lock up in their golden bunkers, while in the streets the people shoot each other with guns. Partly because the members of Circolo Posillipo are not as rich as we could imagine; but mainly because Naples, as south american cities are, is a place far more complex than the unambiguous narrations we receive from the media, that now only see/sell the violent deaths, criminality, urbanistic and social chaos, while in the Nineties they only showed the monuments that were reopening, the dynamism of the new upper classes, and the rebirth of tourism. Even them the camorra controlled the neighborhoods, the peripheries were second-class places, the young people were beginning to assume crack and cocaine, hidden by the invisibility in which they were being kept. All these things, at that time, were not so fashionable as they are it now.
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The slums of Poblenou

12/11/2010 admin 0
"The last gypgy settlement in Poblenou has been evicted" as was announced in Barcelona's newspapers on october 6th, 2010. But if we read better, the real news are that there had been no eviction: too many children were living in the settlement. When newspapers deal with the item of gypsy settlements in Poblenou, industrial neighborhood of Barcelona undergoing a big urban renewal process, they always approach it as if this settlements are about to disappear, like if they were pintoresque remainders of a past now gone f According to the press, "the last settlements in Poblenou" had already been evicted in 2004 in carrer Agricultura, or in the Oliva Artés factory in 2003. When they speak of gypsy settlements, they always use the word "barraques" (slums), a particulary thick term: the struggle against Barcelona's slums was one of the victories of grassroots movements in the 60s and 70s. So, these news about the gypsies and their shanty towns so close to the skyscrapers of the new "technological district 22@", more than a revival of the "barraquismo" as a phenomenon, they make us think of a revival of the uses of this phenomenon: an instrument that serves the purpose of giving an excuse to simplify the conflicts and contradictions that go along with this enormous urban renewal project. If the gypsies and their slums belong to the past, and the skyscrapers to the future, every eviction can appear as a debt with history. Social policies, are the real remainder of a past now gone.