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Herstory of the revolution: words of rebel egyptian women

11/08/2011 admin 0
"Allowing my daughter to sleep in Tahrir, of course, was a revolutionary decision. This is the effect of the revolution on our way of thinking and dealing with things".Hanan Sadek, 52, works in an oil company "I'll never forget the way that soldier looked. He wouldn't look at me, he was looking away. Deliberately trying to avoid eye-contact with me, and he was crying. Then all at a sudden they all started to shoot at the same time" Sanaa Seif, 17, student "We were living with our eyes closed. We didn't use to see what is in front of our eyes" Mona Hussein, 50, housewife Every week, the independent equipe of Leil-Zahra MORTADA uploads in "Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution" a short video: the revolution should not be explained as dominant history always does, as virile adventures of heroes and martyrs. Herstory is the version that even revolution enthusiasts try to keep silent: because the existence of rebel arab women is too big a contradiction for the standard version of history.
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Racism in “Santako”

07/08/2011 admin 0
Six cities around Barcelona - Hospitalet, Badalona, Terrassa, Sabadell, Mataró, Santa Coloma de Gramenet - are among the ten most populated in Catalonia. But only Hospitalet and Santa Coloma have a higher density than Barcelona, compact city par excellence. The urbanistic chaos that characterises Santa Coloma de Gramanet is the direct result of real estate speculation and political corruption: persistent racism among some sectors of its population is the other side of overcrowding and impressive diversity of origins that defines the people of Santako. But if in the beginning of the 20th century, those who rejected the immigrants from southern Spain settled in the casas baratas at least could hold to their local origins and catalan speech, in the 21th century those who promote boycott to arabics, chinese, latinamericans, romans of the city, are themselves - for the most part - second generation immigrants. The video Mézquita no! (2005) describes the conflict around the opening of a mosque in the Singuerlin neighborhood.
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What can we do with industrial heritage? action and reflection from Barcelona’s Can Batlló

21/06/2011 admin 0
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.
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A naval battle in Vallecas (Madrid): utopia as a device to build identity

11/06/2011 admin 0
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.
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The “Reconquista” of Alcoi (Valencia)

19/03/2011 admin 0
The transformation of the center of Alcoy, the most ancient industrial city in Spain, between Valencia and Alicante, entails great demolitions in the Partidor neighborhood, cradle of the spanish working class movement. The City Council is buying the buildings of the neighborhood one by one, then evicts its inhabitants, fostering deterioration and creating an excuse for their demolition. In the name of common good, and of the improval of urban life, all around Spain the historical places of the working class are under attack, like if history was only the history of the ruling classes; this process is even more dramatic where there were strong struggles and rebellions against the new-born capitalism. "The shame of having to attend to your own funeral", as sang by Alcoi's poet Ovidi Montllor, about the reconstruction of a steeple burned during the Civil War.
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The “Bachillera” and the struggle against gentrification in Seville

20/02/2011 admin 0
Just as in Barcelona, gentrification arrived to Seville in the eighties, when the city began to prepare for Expo '92. But the struggles and mobilization against real estate speculation didn't begin until the decade of 2000. The Bachillera, a neighborhood of self-constructed houses in Macarena district, historically was in the outskirts of the city, but with the Expo entered in a "new central area". Residents own the houses, but the lands belongs to the Sevillan Charity Association, who wanted to demolish the entire neighborhood. The initial demolition plan was blocked through the collaboration of neighbors and activists/technicians, that managed to get involved in a rehabilitation project for the neighborhood. Neighborhood assemblies were held, then participative workshops, door-to-door enquiries, a consensual diagnosis of the neighborhood, and even a 15 days occupation in the headquarters of the Sevillan Charity Association.
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Links on protests in Maghreb

30/01/2011 admin 0
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A competition of ideas against the demolition of a popular neighborhood

22/01/2011 admin 0
During the years 2009 and 2011, some members of our research group helped in the organization of Repensar BonpastorInternational Competition of Ideas promoted by a group of architects and urbanists from Barcelona with the collaboration of the International Alliance of Inhabitants. After various years of fieldwork (2004, 2009) in Bon Pastor's casas baratas, and helped by the stable relationships we entailed with a series of families of residents, we reached a conclusion: that in spite of the media and institution constantly repeating how this neighborhood is in need of "renewal" (the word they use to say "demolition"), other solutions are possible, for this group of social houses, "red" and popular, built by Barcelona's City Council in 1929: it could be possible to preserve the historical and social peculiarity that this neighborhood represents for its residents and for all the city. Cultures, habitus, techniques and languages developed during decades by the inhabitants of the 784 casas baratas, and deeply rooted in this particular style of housing, will not survive after the demolition of the neighborhood. Even many of its inhabitants, since "modernity" arrived to the neighborhood under the form of demolitions, had to leave the neighborhood or suffered violent evictions.
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History and its distortions in the center of Barcelona

29/12/2010 admin 0
To understand the recent urban and social transformations in Barcelona's Barrio Chino, historical center of the town (that now, after gentrification and demolitions, we have to call "Raval") often the attention goes towards the subproletarians living and smuggling in the neighborhood: "an underworld of immoral behaviour" (1943). But it would be more useful to study another kind of commerces, much darker and of greater scale, than those of the underworld. The catalan bourgeoisie had been trying to transform and demolish Barcelona's city center during more than a century: this project had to wait during the dictatorship, but in the eighties the old dream came back to life. "These 200 families that had been holding power during 150 years, invested in purchasing blocks of flats in central Barcelona, so they would make lots of money when these neighborhoods would have been demolished and rebuilt". Read Adolf Castaños' Memory and its distortions (inedited, 2010) in English (pending revision). (original Spanish)
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December 2010: burning cars

22/12/2010 admin 0

Gentrification: cars burning (2010). “The BRENNENDE-AUTOS.DE webpage is dedicated to the memory of the cars burned in Berlin since 2007. […] During the last three years in Berlin more than 500 cars, mostly big engined, have been burned by night. 

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Recipes to eliminate poverty in Buenos Aires

14/12/2010 admin 0
On december 8th, 2010, the Metropolitan and Federal Police attacked the 200 families who had settled in Parque Iberoamericano (Buenos Aires), as if it was an enemy army: the operation ended with two deaths and many injured. Then, the local gobernment and mass media promoted xenophobia, presenting the abandoned park as "squatted" by bolivians and paraguayans linked with drug dealing: so racist groups from the neighborhoods, together with violent hooligans - patotas de barrabravas , close and often directly hired by the local government- continued the job, killing two more of the settlers.
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Sevilla: neighborhood of San Bernardo in peril

03/10/2010 admin 0

“The neighborhood doesn’t have to be a closed community, nor a museum of past history: it shouldn’t be like this. The neighborhood, in a dynamic city, is driven by a constant process of tranformation, to continuous deconstructions and reconstructions that descends from various factors, for example to the same biology of human life. But the changes not always mean an enrichment. A neighborhood can also die and disappear, tranform into a space that is only residential, an agglomeration of private spaces without place nor common life“. From Manifiesto por San Bernardo, document about the transformation of the neighborhood of San Bernardo in Sevilla, and about the resistence movements who are leading its inhabitants. See also the webpage of the network of neighborhood struggles in Sevilla.…

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The horizontal city: the neighborhoods of Cases Barates in Barcelona

13/09/2010 admin 0

Our research group began working in 2008 on the Casas Baratas de Bon Pastor, in the north periphery of Barcelona. It's a special neighborhood: more than 600 one-story houses, every one of them painted in a different color, in the middle of factories and industrial zones, on the shore of the Besós river. Built in 1929 in the middle of nowhere, to give housing to the immigrant factory workers (“murcianos y de la FAI”, they called it in those times), now it's an urban space more similar to a village than to a neighborhood of an occidental metropolis. A project of the Barcelona City Council, owner of all the houses, entails the “remodelation” of the whole area, through the demolition of the "casas baratas": the first 145 where demolished in 2007, a few months before we began our research. The inhabitants of the neighborhoods are suffering a series of “social pathologies” that go along the physical demolition of the houses: the social networks (neighbors, relatives...) are suffering the consequences of the urban transformation, and the "humanscape" of the neighborhood is changing maybe even faster than the physical landscape.

Des del Ressentiment (Barcelona, 2006)

14/08/2010 admin 0

Short documentary film we realized in 2006 on the factory of Can Ricart (Barcelona), under the effects of the “22@” urban renewal plan. All the industries and organizations that used the XVIIIth century stucture had to leave, as well as most of the inhabitants of the surrounding buildings. …

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Naples, 2013 Forum of Cultures

13/08/2010 admin 0
"The first edition of the Forum of Cultures, in Barcelona in 2004, was a failure: the ambitious program of cultural events served only as a cover for a huge speculative operation on the popular neighborhood of Poblenou and on the city coast. In the same way in Naples, Forum 2013 will be the Trojan horse through which heavily revalorize for tourism and real estate the city's historical center and the area of Bagnoli, speeding up the expulsion of the low-income classes towards the peripheries, and to increase constructions on the coast of Coroglio".