Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) NUBS 4.20
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.16. Urban memoryscapes NUBS 4.20 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
18 attendees saved this session
Remembering Production: Favela Museums, Building, and the Production of Space
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/07 10:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 11:30:00 UTC
Rio de Janeiro is home to several different museums preserving the experiences of living in favelas and of the political struggles over safe and secure housing. O Museo da Favela, O Museu do Horto, O Museu das Remoções, O Museu de Ontem: each memorialises histories and practices of struggles for housing in different ways. How do these museums preserve the skills, experiences, and practices of building houses in contested spaces? Different museums will prioritise different aspects of "production", according to the experiences they seek to preserve; for example, O Museu das Romoções focuses on the political struggles against the removal of residents of Vila Autodromo or O Museu de Ontem focuses on the erasure of the history of the zone from the built environment. We engaged the aesthetic dimension of the museums by considering the different modes of instituting memory – thus, where the Museu de Ontem is an app for a smart phone, the Museo do Horto is a walking tour organised by residents: how do these different forms of representation afford different practices of producing space?  We also ask how, or whether, the specific practices of building the structures – organising the work, acquiring materials, access to tools and skills – are represented in the collections. The representation of the building of the favelas may be more or less explicit in different museums, inviting a specifically political question about what is revealed and what is set aside in these representations of space, and the difference it might make to acknowledge production relations in the production of space.
Matt Davies
Senior Lecturer In International Political Economy, School Of Geography, Politics And Sociology, Newcastle University
Renata Summa
Pontificia Universidade Catolica Do Rio De Janeiro
Gravestones of Community: Neighborhood markers as elements of social forgetting and nostalgia
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
How does a local community remember its own history? In the late 1990s decorative rainbow pylons, or pillars, were installed in Boystown, a neighborhood of Chicago known as a historically gay enclave. Since installation the pylons have been treated as monuments to the local gay community, and the pylons themselves are referenced by media and public communications as objects installed with the specific purpose of recognizing the impact the neighborhood had on gay rights and city procedures. This is all despite their artificial emplacement (driven by city politics) and their lack of connection to a specific location or event site. The pylons as a local monument is further complicated  years after installation, when plaques are added to the pylons to make it a global LGBTQ+ museum. The pylons provide an excellent case study in three parts: 1) how the pylons came to be and what, if anything, was intended for remembrance, 2) how the pylons represent a broader trend of heritage branding for neighborhoods, and 3) how the pylons now accompany a superficial and incomplete memory of the neighborhood. Ultimately, consumption of the "gay experience" in this neighborhood, including the pylons, indicates a current longing for membership to a long gone subaltern community.
              This study examines city planning documents about the neighborhood designation of the gay community in Chicago, the activities of the gay community, and the events leading to the pylon installation. I also take a comprehensive look at the media coverage of the pylons over time. Finally, I utilize excellent and already published studies on Boystown to examine its current state of experience consumption in the context of Chicago's revival as a post-industrial city. Ultimately, I argue that though media, scholarship, and public communications treat the pylons as monuments, the pylons are better described as anti-mnemonic objects that represent a forgetting, not a remembering, and an overwriting of local community history. What is more, the presence of the pylons as physical markers in a consumer-driven gay experience sets up a pseudo-memory or imagined participation for those who have only interacted with the pylons after the installation.
Emily Buff
Predoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
“History must not be demolished”: Memory, Identity, Space and Social Change in a Provincial Italian Town. The case of Ballarin stadium in S.Benedetto del Tronto
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
San Benedetto del Tronto is a small Italian city on the Adriatic coast, essentially known for its fishing fleet and for being a tourist destination since the early 20th century. On 7 June 1981, a fire broke out during a third division football match in the South Stand of the Ballarin stadium, causing two deaths and a hundred injuries. The event is to date the most serious tragedy to have occurred in an Italian sports facility.
In the following thirty years the memory of the event remained excluded from the public sphere while the Ballarin stadium, located in a central position in the urban fabric, gradually underwent a process of abandonment and degradation.
In 2011, coinciding with the 30th anniversary, a series of actors produced a narrative that reclassified the 1981 event as a cultural trauma that resulted in a tear in social fabric and a wound for local collective identity. These narratives have been produced through documentary videos and especially with commemoration ceremonies in the old stadium. In the same year, the memory of the two victims was included in the urban landscape, with a commemorative plaque fixed, however, not in the Ballarin stadium, but in the one inaugurated in 1985
In the same period a series of actors, municipalities and entrepreneurs have turned their attention to the old stadium. By reclassifying it as aesthetically and morally polluting the urban fabric they promoted a series of urban regeneration projects which included its demolition. This initiative has unleashed a vast mobilization of old and new actors who oppose the demolition of the stadium, producing an enormous amount of initiatives: marches, petitions, assemblies, documentaries, books, gadgets, architectural projects and citizens' referendums, under the banner of the slogan " The history must not be demolished. Let's save the South Stand"
The memory of the 1981 event is an example of a difficult past. My presentation is intended as a contribution to the literature dedicated to cultural trauma. Firstly by analyzing the specific characteristics of the trauma process of the 1981 event: the long silence around the event, the production of a narrative focused on the victims and which ignores the perpetrators, the memorialization of the victims not in the trauma site.
Secondly the presentation focuses on the analysis of the production of a "cultural trauma of an object" in which the demolition/loss of a building, of a football stadium, is transformed into a trauma. In particular, it analyzes the characteristics of the narratives that culturally reclassify a building devoid of artistic-architectural qualities into an iconic object. The stadium therefore becomes a receptacle of meanings that intertwines the history of the football team with the history of the city, becoming a resource for redefining the collective identity of the community of San Benedetto.
Furthermore, the sociological literature dedicated to stadiums shows, for example in England and France, how the stadium can be the object of symbolic investments, summarized by the term topophilia. This sacralization of the stadium fuels resistance and mobilizations in the face of the possibility of its abandonment/demolition. My presentation suggests that similar processes also occur in Italy, through the case study of the Ballarin stadium and also references to other Italian stadiums.
Finally, the intensity of the debate and investment around the fate of the Ballarin stadium, which obviously include narratives and practices that support its demolition, reflects the current tensions and anxieties of a local community trapped between the uncertainties of the present classified as crisis and decline and the memory of a glorious past.
My presentation is based on the analysis of local newspaper and television archives, on the analysis of the narratives produced by the agents of memory through a plurality of cultural artifacts, on the fieldnotes taken during the participant observation at the events dedicated to the stadium and on a dozen in-depth interviews.
Fabio Salomoni
Lecturer, Koç University Istanbul
Making Memory Matter: Understanding Religious Subjects and Subjectivities in Kenya and South Africa.
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
Johannesburg, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya are dynamic cities that have been formed and transformed materially as well as through migration and other mobilities. This presentation explores how and why memory matters for religious adherents in different African cities. Drawing on two different case studies, religious traditions, and contexts – the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Soweto and the Kenyan-Nubian Muslim community in Nairobi – the authors argue first that like belief, memory is not located in the interiority of the subject but materially mediated through a community's engagement with place. Second, in the context of post-colonial and post-apartheid chronophagy where certain religions and religious actors are memorialised in national memory, this paper asks what kinds of memories and memory practices are overshadowed by, and subsumed under, the prefix of 'post' – post-colonial and post-apartheid? Noticing which (historical) stories do not get (re)told alerts us to motivated forgetting and the active construction of ignorance. Conversely, noticing the occasions and settings in which hi/stories are (re)told demonstrates the connections between place, community, and the ways shared or community knowledge is archived in memory. In a (post)colonial, (post)apartheid city, the connection between place and community memory unsettles the assumption of 'post-' as 'past' by embedding/embodying memory in the present, making it material in lived connections to buildings, neighbourhoods, and lands. By presenting insights from these two case studies, we highlight how place and property as well as communities' attachments to them, provide matter to insert, refute, and circumvent their claimed exclusion from political and popular memory with particular attention to its significance for understanding and conceptualising religious subjects and subjectivities. Finally, this paper provides ethical and ethnographic insight into the role that researchers who are outsiders to the community can play in navigating the multiplicity of memories that permeate their research context.
Presenters Eleanor Higgs
Lecturer In Sociology, Brunel University London
Tammy Wilks
Doctoral Candidate, University Of Cape Town
Excavating the Urban Memoryscape: Visualizing Displacement and Alternative Futurities in Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afro-Futurist Period Room
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
Memory is often expressed through spatial metaphors; from Ars Memoria, where "memory palaces" are transformed into mnemonic devices, to Freud's invocation of Rome to describe the palimpsestic nature of the mind, place is integral to how we envision memory. However, these metaphors draw upon a static notion of place, and, similarly, since Pierre Nora, memory studies has concentrated on relatively stable "sites of memory" that maintain their cultural significance through continuity and conscious effort. Instead, this paper seeks to explore the dynamics of memory in mutable everyday spaces by exploring the urban environment as a layered memoryscape, where renewal projects that seek to efface the past and build a new future paradoxically excavate effaced urban histories of colonialism, slavery, and dispossession that contest the otherwise hegemonic drive of gentrification. 
In this paper, I outline a process I term "sedimentary memory" to view the imaginative excavation of the urban memoryscape in the recent installation Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afro-Futurist Period Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The period room "considers domestic lives previously omitted from the scope of the Museum's other period displays: the home of an African-American family based on the historical settlement of Seneca Village," a predominantly black community that was razed to create New York City's Central Park (Alteveer, et. al. 7). The exhibit uses the visual realm to reinscribe this community back onto landscape, to "imagine a different future for the residents […] had the settlement been allowed to thrive into the present" (Alteveer, et. al. 7-8). In staging a sense of historical continuity, where nineteenth-century artefacts sit alongside commissioned works by African and Diasporic artists, the exhibit creates the feel of an inherited multi-generational home. However, it also stages the impossibility of such continuity by limiting lines of site into the space and by documenting how the displayed objects are embedded within the transatlantic trade in people and materials. Before Yesterday We Could Fly thus creates an ephemeral and speculative memory site that marks multiple communal dispossessions; the first being the displacement of community's residents, the second, the traffic and enslavement of their ancestors, and finally, the continual displacements of their descendants under urban renewal and gentrification. Ultimately, I argue that the exhibit's use of imaginative excavation shows us the potential of pulling back the sedimentary layers of the urban memoryscape to demonstrate how memories of the past can inform the city's inequitable present, allowing us to speculate, for one moment, what might be, rather than what is.
Alteveer, Ian, Hannah Beachler, and Sarah Lawrence. "Before Yesterday We Could Fly: Envisioning an Afro-Futurist Period Room at the Met." The Metropolitan Bulletin (Winter 2022): 4-15.
Jessica Young
Assistant Professor Of Global English, New College Of Florida
Koç University Istanbul
Predoctoral Fellow
Harvard University
Lecturer in Sociology
Brunel University London
Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle university
Assistant Professor of Global English
New College of Florida
Assistant Professor of Global English
New College of Florida
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