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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P216)

Technologies of place: time, social identity, memory and agency as architectural elements

Location Block 1, Piso 1, Room 46
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Paula Mota Santos (Universidade Fernando Pessoa and Universidade de Lisboa, Centro de Administração de Politicas Públicas) email
Marta Prista (CRIA - Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia) email
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Short Abstract

The panel deals with space as socially produced, proposing to discuss, theoretically and ethnographically, the different factors at play in the ways in which social groups produce and/or contest work, leisure, consumption, heritage, domestic, religious and other places.

Long Abstract

Space is never ontologically given: it is discursively mapped and corporeally practised. Space is not a collection of things or a thing among things, nor a product among other products. According to Lefebvre, 'space subsumes things produced and encompasses their relationships in their coexistence and simultaneity': 'space is a social product'. As such, space is more usefully thought of as 'place'. A place is structured space: it encapsulates order, meaning and emotion. To places we give names and to places we are always emotionally attached (be it through attraction or repulsion). As Tuan wrote: 'places are centres of values'. This panel takes a processual view of human space, one in which issues of time, social identity, memory (which is always intertwined with emotion) and agency are taken as central elements in this social production of structured space, ie, in the socially built 'architecture' of places.

This panel deals with the social production of space, the ways in which social groups construct space as intentionally and specifically meaningful (a narrative) and how by doing so they include and exclude themselves and others in relation to a place (the politics and the poetics of belongingness and of its opposite, exclusion), reflecting on social practices and identifications through consumption of place. Thus, the panel welcomes papers that address how place simultaneously objectifies and is objectified by social actors' desires.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

A place in the sun: social space in housing cooperatives

Author: Maja Hojer Bruun (Aalborg University)  email
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Short Abstract

Exploring such mundane things as the responsibility for garbage and the building of balconies in Danish cooperative housing associations, this ethnographic paper sets out to discuss how actions, social relations and flows of persons, tangible and intangible objects emerge as differently valued space in and around the home.

Long Abstract

In cooperative housing, much space cannot easily be categorized as either public or private: The space between what clearly belongs to the individual flats and households and what clearly belongs to 'the public' (the street, the sidewalk etc.) During my fieldwork in selected housing cooperatives in Copenhagen I realized that most of the discussions, arguments and disagreements centred around these spaces, big and small. In this paper, I explore how such "intermediate" space can be theorized. The ethnography of social life in housing cooperatives can help conceptualize the "in-between-ness" and blurring of boundaries that is characteristic of much urban social space.

The paper begins by reviewing symbolic analyses of the space of the home and the structuralist disctinction between the private and the public that has a special place in European history. The study of cooperative housing, however, invites seeing the space of the home, the house and its surroundings as actions and social relations, instead of starting out the analysis with presupposed places or spaces that are given ontological attributes. Seeing space instead as foldings (Deleuze) and as an emerging property of social relationships (Corsín Jiménez), the paper examines how residents in coops invest backyards, rooftop terraces, staircases, and balconies with different values and meanings through their social relations: kinship, friendship, neighbourship, community, individual freedom, peace and quiet. From this perspective, balconies are extensions of the family home and garbage and dirt from staircases is creeping into the family home and sense of orderliness.

From non-place to home-place or what happened in urban socialist neighborhoods?

Author: Valentina Gulin Zrnic (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper interprets the dynamics of place-making and the creation of the sense of place in urban neighborhoods in Zagreb, which were built during the socialist period.

Long Abstract

The paper focuses on urban neighborhoods in Zagreb, which were built during the socialist period. Although usually represented as "a dormitory", a non-place and a non-city, these labels implying generally the lack of social bonds among its inhabitants, the research shows that urban neighborhoods have become culturally meaningful places. Two complementary perspectives organize the paper. The first perspective includes factors that influenced the shaping of actual physical environment, such as town-planning and architectural, but also political and ideological factors. From this perspective, every aspect of future life in the neighborhood has been envisioned and planned, from consumption and leisure to the "sense of place". The second perspective is a processual and phenomenological one; it draws on time span and lived experience, embodiment, spatial practices, social interaction, narration and emplacement which result in creating attachments to a particular neighborhood, as well as forms of urban belonging and identity.

Ethnographically, the paper is based on a long-term research and fieldwork in Zagreb neighborhoods. The material will be interpreted through the prism of processes of place-making, and by juxtaposing perceived, conceived and lived space. Furthermore, some wider issues will be discussed as well: how the sense of place which is locally defined (in this particular case "the urban local") relates to a broader - real and imagined - community ("the city")? With what kind of urban "heritage" could such neighborhoods contribute to city's representations? How alternative the history of the city would be if written from the phenomenological perspective of place?

"But these are not past places to me": UNESCO WHS inhabitants' memories as tools in the reclaiming of authority and power over place

Author: Paula Mota Santos (Universidade Fernando Pessoa and Universidade de Lisboa, Centro de Administração de Politicas Públicas)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper analyses the social representation of place by the inhabitants of Porto's old city (a UNESCO WHS) as objectified by the photographs of 'important places' in Old Porto taken by former. The research to be presented is based both on the photographs and on the inhabitants' discourse on the places photographed. The information collected shows how by producing a thickly weaved and exclusively biographical place the inhabitants' are able to claim the place as theirs, thus negating to other social agents (namely the oficial powers of the city) the right to rule over the place's life.

Long Abstract

Lefebvre states that space is socially produced; De Certeau states that a neighbourhood is a place that is corporeally practised and for Tuan, a place is structured space: to a place we give names, to places we feel emotionally attached to (either by attraction or repulsion). It is following these authors understanding of space as place that the research to be presented collected and analysed the discourses on the places the inhabitants of a UNESCO WHS (the old city of Porto, northern Portugal) see as important. The paper analyses the social representation of place by the inhabitants of Porto's old city (a UNESCO WHS) as objectified by the photographs of 'important places' in Old Porto taken by former. The research to be presented is based both on the photographs and on the inhabitants' discourse on the places photographed. The information collected shows how by producing a thickly weaved and exclusively biographical place the inhabitants' are able to claim the place as theirs, thus negating to other social agents (namely the oficial powers of the city) the right to rule over the place's life.

Post-industrial place: redefinition

Author: Naira Chilingaryan (Bauhaus University)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper looks at re-imaging and re-conceptualization of post-industrial areas, i.e. Testaccio in Rome, by tracing its narrative in relation to the present-day objectified representations and codifications used and produced by the agents and actors.

Long Abstract

Space is a mutable and ever-changing product of economic, social, cultural and political processes. The forms people build, whether in the imagination or on the ground, arise from their current involvement with the surroundings. Memory understands space as a composite of instants from different times, where history works in opposition to a sense of temporal development. In the age of post-industrialism 'synthesis' or 'hybridization' of the old and the new is at the fore. There is a re-discovery of territorial identities, local traditions and local histories. The attempt to recover 'real' aura becomes an important force, creating the desire for authenticity. An increased emphasis on sustainable conservation allows a connection with evidence of the past woven into the contemporary built environment. The paper looks at what is crucial in current re-imagining of post-industrial areas referring to the area of Testaccio in Rome, i.e. the ex-slaughterhouse (Mattatoio di Testaccio) and "La Città dell'Altra Economia". It explores the transformation of the emotional links regarding the site by tracing its narrative in relation to the present-day representation.

The way an individual mentally processes what is perceived through one's senses is to a large extent socially mediated. The codifications and the objectified representations used and produced by the agents and actors are of particular interest, as they are the necessary factors for re-imagination and re-conceptualization of places.

Build the memory of the city, through the practice of space

Author: Álvaro Campelo (Universidade Fernando Pesssoa)  email
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Short Abstract

Our proposal is based on Michel de Certeau's conceptions about “place” on one side, and the other, on a theoretical development proposed by us about mind mapping, social practices, and the ability memories of space have to master space and thus find security in it. In this subject, emotions play an important role. Then, we apply this theoretical basis on a case study of urban planning, namely the rehabilitation of a square in a small city in Northern Portugal.

Long Abstract

The space, as a "practiced place" (Certeau), offers us an opportunity to read the practice of the city. Practices are interpreted by the social actor and subscribe a performative text, of evidence and concealment, of normativity and marginality. For that to happen, he values or despises present evidence, always known, or new features, always questioned. The frequent and repeated practice of these spaces is an inherited memory, and always updated. While a memory practice is lived by the actor as an emotional - action, it is also agency in as much as it involves the selection and organization of the experience of that space. The questions are: why are you looking for a particular space and whys the latter expected to make happen a specific experience?

The case study is a square in the city of Esposende, Northern Portugal. In the past the square was a space more lived by the locals; this ceased to be so due to urban interventions in the final of the twentieth century. Currently the square is undergoing a new intervention.

The places and their clubs

Author: Daniel Seabra (Fernando Pessoa University)  email
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Short Abstract

How urban spaces became places of belonging, memory, and identification with the centennial football clubs of Oporto and how their supporters emulate this city and its areas in their football stadiums.

Long Abstract

Oporto is a city that has two centennial football clubs and a third that will complete one hundred years of existence in December 2011. Throughout its long history Boavista Futebol Clube, Futebol Clube do Porto and Sport Comércio e Salgueiros maintained a deep relationship with the city and its spaces. These were places, not just for sports, but especially of belonging and to which the club's supporters are emotionally attached and through whom emerge discourses that construct social memory and identity of clubs. Some of these places were both shared and conflict spaces between the clubs. They were therefore, the reason for discourses in praise of one club and in depreciation of the opponents, thus underlining the difference between them.

The communication that will be presented will highlight such place as symbols of belonging and identity of these three clubs. The football stadium will also be presented as a place where the city as a whole is emulated and celebrated, but also mapped according to their various residential areas represented in their hierarchy. The communication shall state the various signs of identification with the clubs that can be found in many residential areas of Oporto.

The newest condominium paradigm? Transition initiatives in Portugal: the social building of the future

Author: Paulo Seixas (ISCSP - Technical University of Lisbon)  email
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Short Abstract

‘Transition initiatives’ are news ways of living, presumably resulting from the ecological ideology or/and from present crisis and the anticipation and fear of a post-petroleum era. This paper draws on some Portuguese transition initiatives like the ITT Initiative TransitionTelheiras and the Paredes Transition and its bridging with foreigner ones, either from England and from Brazil.

Long Abstract

'Transition initiatives' are news ways of living, presumably resulting from the ecological ideology or/and from present crisis and the anticipation and fear of a post-petroleum era. One way or another, transition initiatives seem to be experiences by which people make a place by managing imaginaries of the future, even if with allusions to the past. After a period in which several experiences were basically rural, there are now several cases in which these imaginaries seem also to present bridges between life in traditional-rural communities and urban-industrial life. Some of the urban experiences could reveal news ways of dealing with one of the important innovations of twenty century urban life: the condominium. Condominiuns were created, in most countries, basically since 1950ies and they are news ways of managing the modern dichotomy between public and private space. Condominiuns introduced and expanded (particularly with the new closed condos of the 80ies and 90ies) the collective property. Although many social scientists and urbanists (as myself 10 years ago) were and still are quite critical towards new condominiuns, collective property in modern urban life was enhanced and even monumentalized as a result of them. Some initiatives of transition explore this idea of collective property and it is possible to ask if we are not facing a newest condominium paradigm?

This paper draws on some Portuguese transition initiatives like the ITT Initiative Transition Telheiras and the Paredes Transition and its bridging with foreigner ones, either from England and from Brazil.

Political movement in the making of regional space: the Alto Douro of northern Portugal

Author: Shawn Parkhurst (University of Louisville)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines how political agents travel and argue in the course of constituting a region for economic regulation. The region of focus is the port wine zone of northern Portugal.

Long Abstract

This paper examines how political agents travel and argue in the course of constituting a region for economic regulation. The region of focus is the port wine zone of northern Portugal, known more colloquially as the Alto Douro. The first demarcated wine region in the modern world, the port wine zone has been re-regulated (and re-demarcated) many times. To effect new regulation, political figures of different kinds circulated through the region. In different cities and towns they held meetings, conferences, and rallies to gather support. Circulation seems to have taken the city of Régua as a core and other cities as semi-peripheries. Two variant institutions and two periods are of special interest. Both are in Régua. First is the Casa do Douro (CD), the regulatory body instituted by the Salazar regime in 1932. Because much is known about the regulatory efforts made by wine growers and their representatives in the years around the founding of the CD, I use them as a baseline for comparison with a second moment. This is the period between 1974 and 2000. The Portuguese Revolution of 1974 dissolved many structures for the regulation of wine regions. The CD survived, but lost power over the long run, finally losing much authority to a new institution, the IVDP, in the 1990s. The paper compares the periods, asking if different political agents, circuits traveled, and arguments made issued in different kinds of region.

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Locating the nation: history and tradition in state-created tourism accommodation - Pousadas de Portugal

Author: Marta Prista (CRIA - Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia)  email
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Short Abstract

A particular chain of tourism accommodations created and owned by the Portuguese State has produced places and narratives of nationhood since the 1940s, participating in the social construction of history and culture, authenticity and tradition.

Long Abstract

Pousadas de Portugal is a particular chain of tourism accommodation created and owned by the Portuguese State that embodies an idea of nationhood. Since the 1940s, Pousadas' network has been enlarged with new buildings, monuments restorations and patrimony rehabilitations, reflecting different understandings of the past and the reconfigurations of national narratives about Portugal's history and tradition.

This paper explores how the social production of the Pousadas has mapped a national past by locating heritage and culture and creating visitable signs of authenticity. These located signs and meanings have been appropriated by political and social local actors with different powers and interests in proposing a narrative of the place. Representations of Pousadas as a network, as a place and as a building enlighten, in this sense, its social construction as spaces of sociation, as markers of local identity and as testimonies of past continuity. Pousadas participate, therefore, in several scales of social identification, related to the nation, to the collective and to self.

Simultaneously addressing tourism, space and identity related issues, Pousadas de Portugal were considered a privileged arena to thing about place as a social production and social construction, where different actors negotiate different meanings, interests and powers.

'The right to the city?': memory and identity in the production of space in Belfast

Author: Mary-Kathryn Rallings (Queen's University Belfast)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper will discuss time, memory, and identity as agents producing and shaping space in contemporary Northern Ireland. The 'walking interview' will be examined as a method in practice, exploring how the connection between memory and place illustrate Lefebvre's idea of space as a social product.

Long Abstract

For Henri Lefebvre, the centre of a city defines both social centrality and the peripheries of exclusion. The grounds of Belfast City Hall are often considered by the Nationalist minority in Northern Ireland to be under Unionist hegemony. In 1993, during the first major Nationalist event permitted in Belfast city centre, Gerry Adams proclaimed, 'you have the right to your city, the right to your city hall' (Irish News, 9 Aug 1993).

This paper will consider time, memory, and identity as agents producing and shaping space in Northern Ireland twelve years after the signing of the Agreement that marked an end to decades of violence known as the Troubles. The focus on integrating society and dismantling the physical barriers left by the conflict means that the legacy of violence and the sustained psychological barriers are often neglected.

To address these issues, I will employ the 'walking interview' (also called a 'go-along' or a 'walking probe') as a method, whereby informants are asked to discuss any memories from the past associated with particular places as well as current associations with those places. Particularly in a society where many people live with memories of a volatile history, considering how people act and react within spaces significant to their lives is important. This method conducts interviews in situ, highlighting the connection between memory and place. By examining the method in practice, this paper will evaluate the effectiveness of the walking interview and how it contributes to understanding how space is produced, mapped, and practised in a post-conflict society.

There's no place like home: memory and the re-imagination of the national community of Sao Tome in Lisbon 


Author: José Sobral (Universidade de Lisboa)  email
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Short Abstract

The main objectives of this paper are to analyze the attachment to homeland among immigrants of S. Tomé e Príncipe in Lisbon. We intend to show it examining two main types of mnemonic practices - narratives and commemoration – through which people re-imagine and feel their national community.

Long Abstract

In his seminal work on the experience of space and place, Tuan draws attention to the central place occupied by the homeland in all societies of the world, be they hunter-gatherers or the inhabitants of the modern nation-states. Also, in one of the works that inaugurated the study of collective memory, Halbwachs emphasized the role played by the spatial dimensions in its structuration.

We will consider in this paper two main modalities of the re-imagining of the national community among immigrants from S. Tome e Principe in Lisbon: narratives and commemorations. Through the first, the homeland is constantly reminded, both in space and time. People evoke the map of the island, its landscapes and places, the flora, activities, the family, kinship networks and social settings, sensory experiences. Commemorations are times of celebration that enable conversation where the central element is a reference to the homeland. Taking as reference the national calendar of S. Tomé and Príncipe - Independence Day, Day of the Woman Sao Tome, Day of S. Tomé - they recreate a sense of belonging and identification with the nation by the reunion of members of the immigrant community who thus are mnemonically synchronized with those in the archipelago. Here, remembering operates not only through discourse, but also by music, the performing body, dance, and the ritualized consumption of food identified with homeland.

Finally, we will take into account the agency's role in the reimagining of the nation, distinguishing between intentional and unintentional ways of remembering.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.