Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Enquiring into the urban form through governing practices and social organisation (IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology )
Location Alan Turing Building G207
Date and Start Time 09 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
This panel will discuss how certain governing practices extract potential commodities from the vibrant urban, when not directly attempting at taming and curtailing it. Parallel or in response to this, current social-organisation examples signal in numerous ways the possible the urban holds.
In recent years, social sciences have paid wide attention to accruing governing practices that enmesh the economic and the political in their attempts to catch on the urban.
The statist/static seizure of the urban often translates into stipulations of what this urban is about and regulations on how it should be managed within the logic contemporary capitalist societies "ought to" follow (neoliberalisation of space, urban marketing and competition...). Meanwhile, a range of centralising dominating and exploitative class strategies has sprawled unevenly allocating affluence and poverty. Programmes of urban renewal that aim at improving social cohesion in spite of social conditions, commoditisation of social space through tourism, processes of gentrification in which to capture rent gaps, the extreme securitisation of habitat (e.g. gated communities), and the financialization of everyday life contribute to segment further the urban form as well as the urban.
However, no matter how severed, the urban still thrives with striking imagination. There are new spaces of representation, and room is produced for urban appropriation, network spasms, unexpected mobility, attainable urban cultures... Distinct social actors are generating original initiatives in social organisation with fresh ways of contending, when not contributing to, governing practices.
This panel enquires into the shape the urban takes and the ways in which social actors set it free anew, against or beyond social exclusion, marginalisation, segregation and profit-gaining. It does so by discussing social experiences and representations in the context of the current ongoing crisis. Both theoretical and field-grounded contributions are welcome.
Discussant: Dr Giuliana Prato
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Between Survivalism, Resistance and Fatalism: The Use of Space in a Urban Historical Food Market, Catania, Sicily.
Through the analysis of the urban space use and its significance, this paper aims to address how a historical market in Sicily faced the intervention of local and international authorities.
During my fieldwork in Catania's "Historical Food Market", the local authorities intervened within the market, to introduce different hygienic standards and new health and safety regulations, fitting the purpose of the city centre's renewal. The changes were introduced in name of international institutions, such as the European Union.
This paper aims to address how vendors resisted the intervention and how ideas of urban space use differed between the local authorities and the stall-holders.
The main line of research, that lies at the origin of my ethnographic work about a food market in Catania, concerns what makes this market historical, traditional and Sicilian. However here I will try to show how the market organisation not only reproduces a specific landscape, rather it conveys a representation of Sicilianitá - Sicilianess - , as it is conceived and performed within this space.
The governing practices enter this sphere and create a tension, which is resolved only partially in a contrapuntal movements between local ideas of modernity and tradition. The argument will be inscribed in the specificity of this cultural context, but it will need to account of the different powers interacting within the market: the local, the regional, the national and the transnational.
Duality between urban strategy and territorial reappropriation in the new down-town of Beirut
Since its creation, the notion of gentrification is used in the social, political and urban studies to describe transformations of city centers. The aim of this communication is to question gentrification paradigm through the case of the Beirut downtown reconstruction
In recent decades the city centers are the preys of the new urban projects such as the renovations, the rehabilitations, the revitalization or the reconstructions. This kind of projects is not only a translation of urban transformations but also social, economic and political changes. The down-town of Beirut has been the subject of urban reconstruction. Ruled by the Lebanese private company SOLIDERE after the civil war (1975-1990), the rebuilt of Beirut down-town changes the structure and the function of its public space (Martyrs, Riad el Solh and Nejme squares). Our attention will be focused on the different logics of the private company to rebuild the down-town and the changes that they have caused. Then, this communication will be interested in underlining and understanding the existing tensions between the SOLIDERE logics of "gentrification" and the different reappropriations of the public space by the Lebanese people.
"Back to the roots": the socio-political organization of urban indigenous communities in Chiapas, México
The paper is based on a one-year long fieldwork in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México and it aims to show how the indigenous inhabitants of a marginalized suburban areas are organizing themselves, exploring and creating new ways of inhabiting the urban space.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas in Chiapas, México is being praised as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Central America. Massive suburbanization taking place in Chiapas in recent decades created the infamous "poverty belt" at the suburbs of the city. While the colonial centre of San Cristóbal is overcrowded with tourists and foreign nomads, indigenous families from the highland communities of Chiapas are trying to survive in the so called colonías, a chaotic belt of settlement in the North-West of the city. This paper presents a case study of how a marginalized, ethnically homogenous suburban area manages to organize itself from bellow in order to gain control over the urban territory. While the municipality government mostly neglects even the basic infrastructure in the colonías, its inhabitants are developing their own ways of understanding, creating and inhabiting the urban space. Drawing inspiration from the world-famous Zapatista movement, the community leaders are using the discourse of indigenous rights and the imageries of going "back to the roots" in order to claim their voice in the political organization of the city. The paper, based on an extensive, one year long fieldwork in San Cristóbal presents an ethnographically elaborated example of the experience of urban marginality, spatial separation based on ethnic difference and commodification of space through tourism .
The end of local governance: a regional Australian example
This paper considers the impact of QUANGOs upon local governance models in the regional Australian context. It will use current fieldwork and theories of James Scott and David Mosse to argue that Australian local formal governance is declining due to the influence of regionally based QUANGOs.
Since its Federation in 1901, the Australian nation has experienced government through a three-tiered system structured around the implementation of national, state and local-based policy. Each level within this governance model aims to act independently yet remains reliant upon the other to function successfully. Beneath this governance structure exist a growing number of lobby groups and quasi non-government organisations (QUANGOs) seeking to influence governance at all levels of the Australian state. One such QUANGO is the Geelong Region Alliance (G21), based in the south eastern corner of Australia and incorporating Geelong City and neighbouring regional shires. G21 performs a variety of local functions and takes a multi-faceted approach to regional development.
My paper addresses an element of my current doctoral thesis research that examines the role of QUANGOs and the evolving state of local governance in Australia. Its particular focus is upon the Geelong region and G21. I will consider James Scott's work Seeing Like a State (1998) to provide the critical background of this paper through its critique of state bureaucracy and subsequent popularity with various advocates of new hybrid state/corporate forms. Additionally arguments in development theory formed by theorist David Mosse regarding 'collaborative governance' (Zadek) will be considered. These theories and ethnographic fieldwork will be drawn together to argue that local formal governance in the Australian context is declining due to the existence of QUANGOs.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.