As in the two previous posts on anthropological theory [post1 - post2], we keep linking texts that could help us to understand the contradictions of an ethnography "within" social activism, i.e. produced inside of a direct engagement with revolutionary political movements, rejecting neutrality and the so-called ethnographic distance, toward the development of an anthropology of action.
In spite of all the scholarly studies on the importance of preserving Barcelona's ancient factories (Tatjer 2008), the usual practice in postindustrial urbanism has been their systematic demolition; sometimes preserving isolated chimneys: more than industrial memory, they seem to celebrate the annihilation of the worker's movement. The conflict around the industrial complex of Can Batlló, a 13 ha. late-XIX-century factory in La Bordeta district (Sants, Barcelona), almost completely abandoned, opposed (as usual) on one side the greed of the landowners and the complicity of the City Council, and on the other the needs and demands of the district's residents.
2011 will be the 30th year in which, in the outskirts of Madrid, and despite the ban of the City Council, the Naval Battle of Vallekas will take place: a popular and politically engaged fiesta that celebrates the independence of the neighborhood and its the proclamation of Vallecas as a seaport. Anthropologist Elizabeth Lorenzi, got involved in the neighborhood since 1998, and recently published an ehtnography of the fiesta (downloadable for free in PDF) in which, beginning from the Naval Battle, she analizes the urban and social transformations of Vallecas in the last decades, the role played in it by the grassroot movements, and the consequences of all this in the building and maintanance of the neighborhood identity. The Naval Battle celebrates and strenghtens the vallekanismo: the neighborhood as a frame for social mobilizations. Through this symbolic device, the long history of political demands, neighbors' struggles, anarchist movements of Vallecas, become part of the process of constructing the neighborhood identity.