Different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, writes Italo Calvino, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves. At time even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voices’ accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place. It is pointless to ask whether the new gods are better or worse than the old, since there is no connection between them… We recommend you another Italian documentary movie: Edoardo Morabito and Irma Vecchio’s I fantasmi di San Berillo (2013), first prize at Torino Film Festival. The demolition of this old neighbourhood in the centre of Catania (Sicily), in 1958, was the biggest urban evisceration in post-war Italy, linked (as everything in the country) with Vatican’s Società Generale Immobiliare: 30.000 people where displaced towards the peripheries. It was the same year in which brothels were banned: prostitutes were forced to work underground, and what was left of San Berillo turned into one of the biggest “red light districts” of the Mediterranean. So the story of the neighbourhood went on for another half century, until 2001, when a new police operation evicted again prostitutes and transvestites from their houses and streets. Today many plots are still unoccupied, and some became new favelas (see this 2012 video). The documentary shifts visually from past to present, and the images are associated with the fascinating words of writer Goliarda Sapienza, born in San Berillo in 1924.
The history of the neighbourhood of Ciudad Meridiana is a perfect summary of Barcelona’s urbanistic schizofrenia. Built in the Sixties on a land accounted as too damp to build a cemetery, with no transportation or services, secluded and unfit to live in, but with a strong neighbours’ movement, it has always been a problematic territory, unknown to the rest of the population: many of its inhabitants started to leave it already in the Eighties, trying to climb socially and spacially, getting over the decade in which the neighbourhood population reached its peak. Since 2001, when Catalonia and Spain were still inside the “housing market bubble”, the immigrants began arriving to Ciudad Meridiana, through mortgages the banks offered crossing the endorsements, and through other tricks that the financial capital used to “infiltrate the world of the urban poor”, as anthropologist Jaime PALOMERA writes in his essay about the neighbourhood. After the crisis began, Ciudad Meridiana was described as an eviction city, and now again for its strong neighbours and squatters movement. Recently there was an interesting debate: the City Council proposed to establish there an innovative “FabLab” related with MIT, but the neighbours reclaim that same spot for a food bank, much more useful to face the growing poverty of many families [see article here].
- Jaime PALOMERA (2013) “How did finance capital infiltrate the world of the urban poor: home ownership and social fragmentation”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research [download pdf – article on Wiley]
- Photoreportage in Diagonal: “Infiernos y solidaridades en Ciudad Meridiana“
- Ciudad Meridiana PHOTO ALBUM by José Mansilla, 2013 (and one 1966 photo).
- Some more references: La Directa “Resistance in Eviction City” :: Lavanguardia.com “To invent or to eat?” :: elperiodico.com “Rice, oil and milk… or research and development?” :: Elpais.com “Ciudad desahucio” (eviction city), 20minutos “Villa desahucio” , Abc.com “Three evicted families establish in the squatted building”
- Links: Associació de Veins de Ciutat Meridiana :: Associació 500×20 Prou Especulacio :: Some questions to Associació 500×20 [in PDF]
On october 5th, in Bolonia (Italy) the Network for the Evaluation of the Subjective Dimensions of Vulnerability (REDISUV) Chile-Europe will meet for the second time, after the foundational Conference in Paris. The repeated natural catastrophes in Chile made evident the need for a more systematic study about the subjectivities of the communities affected, which are always the product of particular social, economical and political conditions. The program of the conference includes papers concerning natural desasters, but also approaches to the “urban” vulnerability, caused by neoliberal policies as the one our group has been studying in Barcelona.
- Bolonia, Thursday september 5th, 10am-6pm: “Vite invisibili: dimensioni soggettive della vulnerabilità sociale“, program in PDF.
- Davide Olori (2013) “Taking over the center to oppose evictions: the case of the Inmuebles Recuperados Autogestionados en Santiago de Chile” [PDF, italian]. “The urgency for housing after the earthquake forced towards the aggregation of both informal organizations (as neighbours, relatives, co-workers) and formal ones (political, parties…), so causing dynamics of rupture and recomposition among interests, hierarchies, relationships…”
- Fabio Carnelli studied ethnographically the consequences of the earthquake in L’Aquila (central Italy) some years after: the “militarized” solution brought again to life the traumas, and increased the vulnerability of the population. See Sismografie on Il lavoro culturale webpage. And also Rita Ciccaglione’s article, one year after the earthquake in Emilia Romagna.
- Caterina Borelli jsut published on academia.edu her PhD thesis about Sarajevo: “La ciudad post-traumática” (see also this older post)
- Stefano Portelli (2013) “Spatial reordering and social pathology in the periphery of Barcelona: the social impact of urban transformation”, intervención al XXI congreso del International Social Theory Consortium, Copenhagen, June 26-27th [Coming soon!]
- Ekümenopolis: Ucu Olmayan Şehir (Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits) (2011) a movie by Imre Azem, will be in Barcelona on november 15th, 8pm at Traslaciones festival in CCCB. Director Imre Azem will participate in the debate Istanbul relatos fuera de campo on wednesday 16th at 7:30pm. [Trailer1] [Trailer2] [Web]
“…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 9Los 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.