Foto: Paola Di Bello

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.
Eviction free zonePK

City Life: From victims to activists against real estate speculation

23/03/2016 admin 0
Boston has today the highest income divide of the US: evictions invariably hit latinos or afroamerican neighborhoods. City Life / Vida Urbana since the 1970s keeps building a network of mutual aid among those who suffer the consequences of these housing policies, also through the use of theater, rituals, symbols.
Las casas baratas de Bon Pastor, una de las últimas 'ciudades horizontales' de Europa. Foto Daniele Veneri.

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.
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A dead city

21/01/2015 admin 0

Like chinese boxes, this documentary not only brilliantly shows the institucional and political corruption behind the police-orchestrated hoax known as ‘4F’, which began on February 4th, 2006 in Barcelona’s calle Sant Pere Més Baix, but it also extends in a coil the understanding of horror to wider levels of society: from the police, to the judges, to the press, to social services, to the city council, to gentrification, in brief, to power in itself. Like before Joaquim Jordà’s De Nens (2003), now Ciutat Morta leads us from a particular history to the deep and terrifying comprehension of the general, of society, of the city. To the memory of Patricia Heras, the dead poet.

The fire that burned this escavator died out; but the one that thousands of us keep inside, is still burning.

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.
En la isla de Poveglia, por lo visto, hay fantasmas.

There is life in the lagoon

26/04/2014 admin 0
We normally consider Venice as a dead city. Its destiny seems such an inescapable fact that so little is done and even thought to imagine a different future. But something is moving in the lagoon.
Mickey Mouse delante de una "stupa" en Kathmandu. Foto: Stefano Portelli, 2013.

Where there be dragons: Multiple modernities in Kathmandu

10/11/2013 admin 0
As opposed to the orientalist stereotypes depicting Kathmandu (Nepal) as a place out of time and of the world, the social reality of Nepal reveals an admirable vivacity. Artists and intellectuals participate in this debates, contributing to make it a laboratory of postsecularism and "multiple modernities".
Ciutat Meridiana - foto de José Mansilla, 2013

Ciudad Meridiana… exists!

05/10/2013 admin 0

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].

Las Marchas dos Santos en Lisboa.

Two cities in the same Lisbon

27/08/2013 admin 0
Two Lisbons live together in the same place, and represent two different urban imaginaries: the Marchas dos Santos populars is an effort to bring back to life the impossible memory, of the organic unity lost in some faraway past, before the 'Pombaline Split', when all Lisbon was bairrista.
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Memories of the resistance: the Flor de Maig

30/07/2013 admin 0
What remains: Flor de Maig, built in 1896 and photographied in 2013 (credits: José Mansilla).

The story of the city of Barcelona can be told focusing on its modifications: its urban plans, projects and transformations, i.e., on what changes. But the story of the city can also be told focusing on what remains, through what survives, what resists on the great void created by the struggles over the territory. Some elements – parks, places, buildings, corners – as classic sociologists said, maintain an identity, some relationships, and an enormous popular meaning. This is the case of Flor de Maig, the emblematic building of one of the big workers’ cooperatives of the XIX and XX century, which conveys the memory of Poblenou: a memory of struggles and resistance. Since 2012, some residents recovered the building, and transformed it into a place of denunciation against the neoliberal direction that the city of Barcelona is undertaking, or, as their website says, to give an answer to the needs, the challenges and the unsatisfied desires of the contemporary capitalist city. Will they succeed?

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Taksim halkindir- Taksim belongs to the people!

05/06/2013 admin 0

Early in the morning I find Taksim square already full of people and fully operational, among the flags of the left-wing extraparlamentary groups, and of associations of the civil society, from feminists to LGBT, from kurdish anarchists to muslim anticapitalists and marxists…A commentary from our correspondent in Istanbul: [in spanish and italian]

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World Assembly of Inhabitants at Tunis WSF

27/03/2013 admin 0
FSM 2013 opening parade, on march 26th in Tunis

From March 26th to 30th, in the frame of the Tunisian meeting of the World Social Forum, a World Assembly of Inhabitants (WAI) is taking place, organized by the International Alliance of Inhabitants, Habitat International Coalition and No-Vox networks. Here is the program of the WAI meeting; to prepare the WAI, the International Alliance of Inhabitants promoted the visual project Memories of inhabitants, compiling hundreds of interviews to activists for the right of housing in 4 continents. We add some reflections about the Forum itself, which was planned in time of generalized euphoria, but is now facing a much more complex reality: Altermundialism seeks new breath in Tunis, from the blog Tunisie Libre; WSF to blast austerity, Yasmine Ryan in Aljazeera; What I learned about feminism from a Moroccan men’s chorus, Maria Poblet in In these times; and One year after the revolution from Nawaat.…

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A photographic and critical “gentrificatour” in Madrid’s Malasaña neighborhood

01/03/2013 admin 0
Photo: Victoria Herranz, 2012. All rights reserved

On february 9th, 2013, Todo por la praxis (TXP), a group from Madrid, organized the first of its programmed critic and photographic walks focused in the process of gentrification which is happening in Madrid’s city centre, specifically in the historic neighborhoods of Malasaña y Chueca. An enterprise of real estate developers, in need for new investments in an era of financial cuts and economic contraction, with support from the City Council, promoted a “programmed gentrification” of the area, which has been renamed Triángulo Ballesta (TriBall). The new triBall brand inspires from NYC’s business zones like SoHo and Tribeca, in an attempt to replace and erase the identity of this popular area of the city. Gentrificatour intends to generate an archive of pictures of posters, labels and luminous of the commercial and productive activities that existed in the neighborhood before their replacement. […] The intention is to build a time-capsule that will allow us to evaluate the effects of a process of gentrification, and, in this way, to make them more visible” we read in TXP’s website. Victoria Herranz, photographer and anthropologist from Madrid, part of the group, explains: “Does Malasaña exist? Maybe; or maybe it exists in a different way. […] The line that divides the rehabilitation of a neighborhood from its destruction is too thin. When a process of rehabilitation limits the options of the neighbors to the point in which families have to leave the neighborhood, maybe something is going wrong”.

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Shift Happens! Critical Mass at 20

20/09/2012 admin 0
Shift Happens! The Critical Mass is an “organised coincidence" of cyclists that periodically celebrate a collective bike ride in the streets; its purpose is to show to the society the great advantages that bicycles could provide to urban mobility. In the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first Critical Mass in San Francisco, one of its pioneers, Chris Carlsson, together with other contributors, edited the book Shift Happens. Critical Mass at 20, a collection of experiences and essays from some of the over 300 cities of the world in which the event reached an autonomous life, after that first bicycle ride. This is the meaning of the expression critical mass - the number of participants needed for phenomenon to start moving and growing by itself. The Critical Mass does'nt ask, it builds, giving form to a livable city through its own praxis. The presentation of the book in Madrid - where every last thursday of the month a Bicicrítica is held through the center of the city, while ten more happen in other neighborhoods and municipalities (like Fuenlabrada, Tres Cantos, Alcalá de Henares, Moratalaz, Ciudad Lineal) - was the occasion for a radio debate in "Carne Cruda", RN3, for the participation of the book's editors in a bicicrítica (read here Carlsson's impressions) and for the presentation of another book of his "Nowtopia, How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclist and Vacant-Lot Gardeners Are Inventing the Future Today", in Traficantes de Sueños bookshop (here the audio of the event). Shift Happens's chapter on Madrid is the summary of an ethnografic article on bicycle repair workshops inside the occupied social centers of Madrid, that can be downloaded entirely from the link below.
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Urban Typhoon: User-generated cities in Mumbai

07/08/2012 admin 0
Who is not frightened by the idea of the unstoppable growth of cities in Asia and in the former "third world", or by the perspective (apocalyptical, though critically framed) of moving towards a planet of slums? But in the places closer to this phenomenon - for example in the popular neighborhoods of Mumbai, India - the idea of slum has been criticized since many decades. These urban zones that don't even deserve being called neighborhoods, always presented towards the exterior as marked by lacks (of hygiene, of safety, of integration, of control, even of morality), under a deeper scrutiny reveal histories and dynamics complex and functional, that had been interpreted in various forms according to the different theories. Based in an office in Dharavi-Koliwada (the enormous neighborhood popularized by Slumdog millionaire), the two urban activists Matias ECHANOVE and Rahul SRIVASTAVA (from Urbz collective) show how a series of spontaneous social structures, internal to the so-called slums, cause a constant improvement and development, often obstructed by local authorities or by urban reform plans. In territories as thick and reticular as forests of mangroves, the only valid ways to development are those generated by their very users: homegrown, as the neighborhoods themselves.
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