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Public space and memories of migration: erasing diversity through urban redevelopment in France

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Abstract

This article examines the meaning of public space and impact of heritage-led urban redevelopment in a diverse neighbourhood in Montpellier, France. It traces the relocation of a North African market from a central city plaza in favour of French antiques, and the resulting contestation over what constitutes local heritage, who has the capacity to determine how public space is used, and the seeming erasure of migrant identities and memories from an important community site. The paper considers how urban areas are re-imagined through a change in the materiality of public space, and outlines the role of outdoor markets in defining the social function of such spaces. The paper examines the intertwining of physical erasure (urban redevelopment and the removal of a diverse food market) and cultural erasure (the loss of certain community memories), and how these processes speak to broader debates about French national identity, cultural heritage, and the meanings attached to public spaces.

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... The variation of physical and social environment, as well as official participation, has had a significant impact on the continuation and transformation of festival culture, where festival landscapes have been reconstructed and have formed their own features. Memory is the source for the presentation of local characteristics and landscape can evoke people's memories of the past [6]. The construction of festival memory in landscape is a complex process embedded in political and economic power [7]. ...
... Legg proposed that the past we commemorate was the result of social choice and geographical construction [23]; Foote believed that in terms of memory studies, the divergence between geography and other disciplines were the types and dynamics of commemorative practice, and geography provided a spatial, regional, and material perspective [24]. The challenge for human geographers producing narratives of landscape and memory has been registered in two closely-related topics, including the landscape study of war memory and the amnesic phenomenon during urban redevelopment [6,25,26]. Many studies have found that due to the design disorder and a lack of collective memory during the landscape construction process, the culture of cities tended to be similar [27]. ...
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... These issues have been raised by Slocum (2007; see also Guthman, 2008;Alkon & McCullen, 2011) in relation to the "whiteness" of farmers' markets and food co-ops in Minneapolis-St Paul; by Coles and Crang (2011) in London's Borough Market; and by Zukin (2004) in relation to New York City's Union Square market. Similar questions have been raised about the social exclusivity of farmers' markets in Prague (Spilková et al., 2013) and the racialised displacement of food vendors in Montpellier (Tchoukaleyska, 2016). ...
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... Such memoryscapes as the DWHS serves as the site for the enactment of a variety of everyday rituals whose performance is simultaneously local and embedded in the ordinary actions of long-time residents as well as externalized, mediatized and commodified in broader global networks of money and political power. So, just like memory elsewhere is embodied and materialized in private spaces (see Meah & Jackson, 2016) or imprinted upon bounded commercial spaces made over to draw upon select traces of heritage (see Tchoukaleyska, 2016), within a manicured heritage landscape acts of remembering depend on the removal of clutter and coherent manicuring -such as restrictions on new road development, limitations on building and impositions on farming practices. Together, these processes 'disguise a politics wherein developers and experts remember space for middle-class inhabitants, businesses, shoppers and tourists, raising wider questions about which fragments and spaces of memory are incinerated, dumped or buried and which pass into social and institutional memory' (Edensor, 2005, p. 831). ...
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Book
Why this particular collection? There is a tide in the affairs of memory, which we thought we should take at the flood. The study of memory in cognitive psychology – one of the most venerable traditions of the discipline – has grown by leaps and bounds in the last twenty years, providing us with new tools and models, from the neural foundations of recollection to the creation and maintenance of autobiographical and historical memories (as well as many other things in between). In the same period, historians have thrown themselves with great abandon into the study of official and private memories, of celebrations and monuments, and of the invention and use of traditions. Even anthropologists have, to some extent, overcome their belief in culture as a deus ex machina or prime mover, and are beginning to describe it as the aggregation of myriad operations of remembrance and forgetting. Since these developments happened in isolation, as guaranteed by the cordons of academic specialization, it was time to understand how they all relate to each other. Mere juxtaposition would be of little interest, as the lowliest search engine can do precisely that – juxtapose results, if nothing else – and especially as these are exciting times for anyone interested in memory as a psychological process fundamental to history and culture. As we report in the following chapters, in a whole variety of domains it makes little sense to think of memory as “individual” (for psychologists) or “cultural” (for historians and anthropologists), as the most fascinating phenomena occur in the individual creation of cultural and historical representations.
Article
Badlands of the Republic? Revolts, the French state, and the question of banlieues Why did they happen? This question was remarkably absent in the aftermath of the recent series of revolts in the French banlieues (suburbs). For many activists, social workers, and researchers, the relevant question was why such revolts have not occurred more often given the state of many social housing neighbourhoods in banlieues. Having done practically nothing to alleviate inequalities, prevent discriminatory practices and police violenceödisproportionately felt by banlieue inhabitants, youth in particularöthe repressive government set up by Chirac was more surprised by the magnitude and persistence of revolts than by the fact that they happened at all. Like previous revolts, the revolts of autumn 2005 were triggered by the deaths of young inhabitants, in which the police, once again, were implicated. Like previous revolts, they were spontaneousönot organisedöuprisings. Like previous revolts, they took place mainly in the disadvantaged social housing neighbourhoods of banlieues. Unlike previous revolts, however, they were suppressed by exceptionally repressive measures by the French state. They not only revealed once again the geographical dimension of inequalities, discrimination, and police violence, but also the contemporary transformations of the French state along increasingly authoritarian and exclusionary lines. Geographies of revolts On 27 October 2005 three young men in Clichy-sous-Bois, a banlieue to the northeast of Paris, took refuge in an electricity substation in order to escape identity checks by the policeöa form of daily harassment not uncommon in the banlieues towards youths, especially if they have a dark complexion. Two of them were electrocuted and one was seriously wounded. That the police actually chased them was officially denied, although the surviving young man stated the contrary. This was the triggering incident for the revolts, which first started on 28 October in Clichy-sous-Bois, and quickly spread to other social housing neighbourhoods of nearly 300 towns, lasting for about two weeks. More than 10 000 vehicles were set alight, and more than 3000 people were placed under police custody, of which one third were indicted. Similar incidents had occurred in the banlieues, as early as the 1970s. However, two major series of revolts were most influential in shaping political debate around banlieues. The first took place in the so-called hot summer' of 1981, a few months after the arrival of the Left in power. By the end of the summer, some 250 cars had been stolen and set alight in the peripheral social housing neighbourhoods of Lyons, Marseilles, Roubaix, Nancy, and Paris. The second occurred a decade later, taking the Socialist government once again by surprise. On 6 October 1990 the social housing neighbourhoods of Vaulx-en-Velinöa banlieue of Lyons seen as exemplary under urban policy's rehabilitation programme öwere the sites of revolts, following the killing of a young inhabitant in an accident in which the police was implicated. Incidents occurred in other banlieues as well in the following months and years, and the decade saw forty-eightöcompared with five in the 1980sölarge-scale revolts in French banlieues, in addition to some 250 of a smaller scale. The revolts of the 1990s shared two common features, which are also true for the 2005 revolts. First, virtually all of them took place in social housing neighbourhoods in banlieues. Second, such neighbourhoods had followed a similar pattern of Guest editorial
Article
The relationship between space and politics is explored through a study of French urban policy. Drawing upon the political thought of Jacques Rancière, this book proposes a new agenda for analyses of urban policy, and provides the first comprehensive account of French urban policy in English. Essential resource for contextualizing and understanding the revolts occurring in the French 'badland' neighbourhoods in autumn 2005. Challenges overarching generalizations about urban policy and contributes new research data to the wider body of urban policy literature. Identifies a strong urban and spatial dimension within the shift towards more nationalistic and authoritarian policy governing French citizenship and immigration.
Book
Breaking with the exoticizing cast of public discourse and conventional research, Urban Outcasts takes the reader inside the black ghetto of Chicago and the deindustrializing banlieue of Paris to discover that urban marginality is not everywhere the same. Drawing on a wealth of original field, survey and historical data, Loïc Wacquant shows that the involution of America's urban core after the 1960s is due not to the emergence of an 'underclass', but to the joint withdrawal of market and state fostered by public policies of racial separation and urban abandonment. In European cities, by contrast, the spread of districts of 'exclusion' does not herald the formation of ghettos. It stems from the decomposition of working-class territories under the press of mass unemployment, the casualization of work and the ethnic mixing of populations hitherto segregated, spawning urban formations akin to 'anti-ghettos'.Comparing the US 'Black Belt' with the French 'Red Belt' demonstrates that state structures and policies play a decisive role in the articulation of class, race and place on both sides of the Atlantic. It also reveals the crystallization of a new regime of marginality fuelled by the fragmentation of wage labour, the retrenchment of the social state and the concentration of dispossessed categories in stigmatized areas bereft of a collective idiom of identity and claims-making. These defamed districts are not just the residual 'sinkholes' of a bygone economic era, but also the incubators of the precarious proletariat emerging under neoliberal capitalism.Urban Outcasts sheds new light on the explosive mix of mounting misery, stupendous affluence and festering street violence resurging in the big cities of the First World. By specifying the different causal paths and experiential forms assumed by relegation in the American and the French metropolis, this book offers indispensable tools for rethinking urban marginality and for reinvigorating the public debate over social inequality and citizenship at century's dawn.
Article
While recent years have seen increasing interest in the geographies of heritage, very few scholars have interrogated the difference that scale makes. Indeed, in a world in which the nation state appears to be on the wane, the process of articulating heritage on whatever scale – whether of individuals and communities, towns and cities, regions, nations, continents or globally – becomes ever more important. Partly reflecting this crisis of the national container, researchers have sought opportunities both through processes of ‘downscaling’, towards community, family and even personal forms of heritage, as well as ‘upscaling’, towards a universal understanding of heritage. While such work has had critical impact within prescribed scalar boundaries, we need to build a theoretical understanding of what an emergent relationship between heritage and scale does within the context of dynamic power relations. This paper examines how heritage is produced and practised, consumed and experienced, managed and deployed at a variety of scales, exploring how notions of scale, territory and boundedness have a profound effect on the heritage process. Drawing on the work of Doreen Massey and others, the paper considers how the heritage–scale relationship can be articulated as a process of openness, pluralism and relationality.
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In France, the State plays an essential role in the preservation and development of heritage (museums, historical monuments, archaeological sites, etc.): it enacts laws and regulations and allocates credits. Economic theory provides arguments in favor of this public intervention. But it also demonstrates the limitations. The tradition of interventionism, inherited from the Revolution, weakens with the rise of neoliberalism and with the decline of credit due to the fiscal crisis that began in the 2000s. The search for new sources of funding from the private sector reflects this evolution.
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In the now burgeoning scholarship on memory, there is a discernible shift from considering the politics of dominant public memory towards sites of counter-memories where vernacular forms of memory activism take place. This paper contributes to this by focusing its attention on plans to preserve Green Ridge in Kampar, Malaysia, a tract of forested hill that was the location of a fierce battle fought between the Japanese and Allied forces in the Asia-Pacific theatre of the Second World War. Specifically, it details the rescaling strategies of one particular individual to enhance the reach and relevance of the site for Malaysians writ large, primarily aimed at lobbying for Green Ridge to be officially marked as local and national heritage. This paper then interrogates issues that have hindered this process with the potential to ultimately thwart the preservation of the site for posterity. In doing so, the paper exemplifies memory activism as ‘work’, where local actors–through the mobilisation of scale politics–represent proactive agents in effecting change in public memory from below. Second, it highlights the fragmented nature of vernacular remembering and how this can impede memory work as much as champion memory formally obscured.
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This paper explores the emergence of the Slow Food Movement, an international consumer movement dedicated to the protection of ‘endangered foods.’ The history of one of these ‘endangered foods’, lardo di Colonnata, provides the ethnographic window through which I examine Slow Food's cultural politics. The paper seeks to understand the politics of ‘slowness’ within current debates over European identity, critiques of neo-liberal models of rationality, and the significant ideological shift towards market-driven politics in advanced capitalist societies.
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Alternative consumption practices often lead to the creation of entrepreneurial spaces like restaurants and bars, and to the resurgence of farmers' markets, offering urban consumers a safe and comfortable place to 'perform' difference from mainstream norms. These spaces fabricate an aura of authenticity based on the history of the area or the back story of their products, and capitalize on the tastes of their young, alternative clientele. This vision gradually attracts media attention and a broader consumer base, followed by larger stores and real estate developers, leading to hip neighborhoods with luxury housing, aka gentrification. Whether the specific discourse of consumption is based on distinction or inclusion, alternative consumers are not so innocent agents of change. Their desire for alternative foods, both gourmet and organic, and for 'middle class' shopping areas encourages a dynamic of urban redevelopment that displaces working-class and ethnic minority consumers.
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After the collapse of its state-subsidized industries, Genoa is taking up a new role as a ‘city of culture’ capable of attracting tourists and high-tech companies alike. Part of the process of urban renovation entails the transformation of Genoa's streets and piazzas into sites for the consumption of culture. This happens, among other ways, through a proliferation of antique fairs that give chronically under- and unemployed middle-class women an opportunity for self-employment. This essay is an ethnographic exploration of how middle-class women antique dealers draw on their gendered and classed skills—especially their aesthetic sensibility and their humanistic cultural capital—to stake out a place for themselves in an urban sphere molded by a neoliberal economy of culture.Mujeres de las ferias: el lugar de las negociantes de antigüedades en una ciudad post-industrial italianaDespués del fracaso de sus industrias subvencionadas por el Estado, Génova se trata un nuevo papel como la ‘ciudad de cultura’ capaz de atraer turistas y empresas de tecnología avanzada. Parte del proceso de renovación urbana implica la transformación de las calles y las plazas de Génova a sitios para el consumo de cultura. Se ocurre, entre otras formas, a través de una proliferación de ferias de antigüedades que da a las constantemente sub- y desempleadas mujeres de la clase media una oportunidad para volverse autónoma. Este artículo es una exploración etnográfica de cómo las negociantes de antigüedades de la clase media utilizan sus experiencias de género y clase—especialmente sus sensibilidad estética y sus capital cultural humanístico—para definir un lugar para sí mismas en una esfera urbana formada de una economía neoliberal de la cultura.
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Chocolate is one of those things, like fashion or sex, for which an academic study is likely to find a ready audience. It even appeals to pop notables who might not normally be expected to interest themselves in contemporary anthropological topics-for example, fashion designer Sonya Rykiel, only one among a host of celebrities who have publicly confessed their chocoholism :
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In this paper I explore the writings of Pierre Nora on lieux de mémoire (realms of memory). Nora's work is a standard reference in geographical writings on memory, yet there are various assumptions in his work that often go unchallenged. An investigation of the concept of nostalgia allows certain levels of yearning to be made clear in Nora's writings. A melancholic nostalgia for 'real environments of memory' and for the unifying power of the nation-state pervades this work. However, Nora hints at the possibility for the survival of memory in the body, and for its defence through the mobilisation of counterhistorical narratives. I conclude through using interdisciplinary theories on embodied memory and sites of countermemory to expand the range of spaces in which the memories of a nation might be constructed, contained, and contested.
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Heritage, as a significant tool to understand the developments of geography and its place in the social sciences This paper describes the emergence of geographical issues — related to other social sciences — on heritage. Even though the spatial dimension of the construction of heritage has been underlined since the 1980’s, geographers, unlike historians, urban planners, ethnologists, sociologists... , have not precociously and notably been involved in this research field. A transdisciplinary topic par excellence, the concept of heritage testifies to the relatively recent — and not yet fully held — integration of geography into social sciences. This paper aims at clarifying the geographical approach to heritage. We identify three major points of view : the first one focuses on the position of heritage in land planning and development, the second gives evidence to the role of heritage in the construction of identities, and the third analyses the relationships of the various actors and their conflicts on the concept of heritage and its implementation. These last two approaches appear to be the most stimulating for geographers, analysing heritage as one of the parameters of the construction of social groups in its spatial dimension and as an asset for spatial appropriation.
Article
Numerous studies have highlighted the importance of street naming as a strategy for constructing ‘places of memory’. This paper draws upon Bourdieu's theory of symbolic capital to examine two key moments in the history of street renaming in New York City: the renaming of the avenues on Manhattan's Upper West Side in the latter nineteenth century and the street renamings in Harlem a century later. The aim of such a comparative case study approach is to demonstrate how the symbolic capital associated with street naming may be linked to an elite project of symbolic erasure and forced eviction, on the one hand, and the cultural recognition of a historically marginalized group, on the other. Both cases consider attempts to rename formerly numbered streets and avenues, and the benefit of considering them together is that they illustrate the multiple interests—as well as the exclusionary politics of race, class, and gender—involved in such shifts from ‘number’ to ‘name’. In doing so, this paper extends the current literature on street naming as a commemorative practice by linking it to a broader relational view of place-making, memory, and symbolic capital.
Article
This article uses a case study from the Musée dauphinois in Grenoble, France to explore the way museums are called upon to act as 'authorities of recognition' for minority communities. Studies of public recognition have often focused on political and legal measures, such as reparations, rather than considering questions of public representation. In satisfying demands for recognition on the part of minority groups do museums contribute to social cohesion or do they generate competition between groups that may heighten existing tensions? This question is particularly pertinent in the French case where the philosophy of republican universalism traditionally discourages acknowledgement of group identities. Drawing on work on recognition by Feuchtwang and Dufoix this article argues that a more complex model of recognition needs to be elaborated for museums in order to take into account the multiple actors involved in the development and reception of exhibitions.
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This article describes the work undertaken by the public authorities of Bristol to construct, for this old slaving port, a collective memory of the trade in Africans. It shows how the use of urban space is necessary to resurrect that past and implies a visual model to inform a new gaze on the city. Through intensive action on the memory of slavery, the author suggests, from the work of Paul Ricoeur, the passage from silence to 'too much memory'. This excess can be viewed as the result of a political instrumentalization linked to the requirements of the British multicutural model. Further, these actions on memory reveal distinctly divergent intentions for the different communities of the city.
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Historical narratives help construct social identities, which are maintained through differentiation between in-groups and "others." In this article, we contend that Fatima Besnaci-Lancou's texts, as well as her reconciliation work—in which she enjoins Beurs and Harkis' offspring to write a new, inclusive, polyphonic narrative of the Algerian War—are an example of the positive use of textually mediated identity (re)construction. Her work suggests the possibility of implementing a moderate politics of empathetic recognition of the (often migration-related) memories of "others" so as to reinforce French national belongingness.
Book
Walter Benjamin's magnum opus was a book he did not live to write. In The Dialectics of Seeing, Susan Buck-Morss offers an inventive reconstruction of the Passagen-Werk, or Arcades Project, as it might have taken form.
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Geographers, planners, and urbanists have rarely focused on racialization as a relational process involving multiple groups, and most work to date adopts a black-white model of race relations. The case study of post-World War II urban renewal in San Francisco's Fillmore District permits geographers and other urbanists the opportunity to examine racial formation as a relational process that differentially positioned African Americans and Asian Americans with respect to each other in the redevelopment process. This positioning resulted in differential outcomes for these two communities, even though both had been segregated into this multiracial and multiethnic neighborhood up until the mid-twentieth century and, as a result, shared a common history and mutual geography. This article utilizes archival research, personal interviews, and theories of racialization from ethnic studies and critical race theory literature to examine, as political scientist Claire Kim put it, the "racial triangulation" or "positioning" of Japanese Americans and African Americans in the Fillmore's redevelopment. I argue that this positioning was a spatial process that located Japanese Americans and African Americans differently with respect to the imagineering behind the district's urban renewal and with respect to the political process behind redevelopment. This spatialized racial triangulation, in turn, intersected with discourses of blight and Cold War Orientalism with the latter discourse eliding differences between Japanese-American spaces and Japan and resulting in the construction of a Japanese Cultural and Trade Center.
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From the French Revolution to the present day, the State in France has used the heritage as a means of nationbuilding. But the sense of what is being protected--moving from historical monuments to heritage--has undergone a profound evolution. When in 1959, a Ministry for Cultural Affairs was created and entrusted to André Malraux, the State had already been pursuing a heritage policy for over a century. Moreover, there are numerous forms of heritage informing cultural policy in the domains of heritage protection and valorisation. The current situation is also linked to important shifts that took shape essentially over the 1970s. This article shows the degree to which the State has influenced the evolution of the notion of heritage.
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This article focuses on one of the central controversies in French intellectual debate since the late 1980s: the extent to which traditional republican principles might be reconciled with a recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity, particularly with relation to North African immigrant communities. After locating the debate in its historical and ideological contexts, the article traces the emergence of three types of response: a ‘traditionalist’ view, which refuses to make any concessions to the claims of multiculturalism and which reaffirms the need to uphold the orthodox republican principles of the secular state; a ‘modernizing’ republicanism, which endorses some elements of cultural pluralism while maintaining the validity of key republican concepts; and a ‘multiculturalist’ republicanism, which calls for a pluralist conception of civic identity and a recognition of the positive value of minority cultures. The article concludes with an assessment of the broader questions of political theory raised by this debate.