Accepted paper:

A proper viewpoint for a valued landscape: analysis of the urbanisation of heritage in the neoliberal city

Author:

Marc Morell (University of Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I analyse the entrepreneurial ideology that values heritage as a key 'hegemonic device' in the neoliberal urban policy agendas of EU cities, by bringing up data collected through research on the re-urbanization process on public land at Tigné, in the Maltese local council of Sliema.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I analyse the entrepreneurial ideology that values heritage as a key hegemonic asset in the neoliberal urban policy agenda of EU cities. The 'new spirit of capitalism' entails the commoditisation of the urban; such as in development and marketing of property through the logic of the visualisation of heritage (thus landscaped heritages). Far from being just images, heritage and landscape become very material 'hegemonic devices' since not only they anchor on particular places (and space them out by setting their population adrift) but also erode whatever contentious reactions take place with regards to the dominant values of land use. I focus on this problem at a theoretical level by bringing up ethnographic data collected through a research centred on the re-urbanization process on public land at Tigné, in the Maltese local council of Sliema and opposite the World Heritage Site of Valletta. By drawing attention on this case, I pop the assumption that takes for granted that heritage and landscape are mere 'cultural' givens beyond their everyday political-economic framing. Moreover, and taking into account the specificity of Malta in the EU, I argue that alongside the interested construction of these 'hegemonic devices', there has to be a slackening of 'hard-core civil society', either by eradicating it or by making it 'environmentally friendly'. Hand in hand with this process there is a propelling of property marketing as a view-point for the few, which can only be achieved by taming the territory through neoliberal urban policies that pave the way for the privatization of public land.

panel W033
Anthropology of policies and ideology of capitalism in the EU