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European City in Comparative Perspective: Seventh International Conference on Urban History  

Τίτλος:Modern Cemeteries and resurrecting narratives: revitalization and ruins in the Brás district, in the city of São Paulo.
Κύρια Υπευθυνότητα:Pereira, V.S.
Κύρια Υπευθυνότητα:Beyers, Leen
Θέματα:Urban renewal -- Brazil -- Sao Paulo
City planning -- Brazil -- Sao Paulo
Αστική ανάπλαση -- Βραζιλία -- Σάο Πάολο
Πολεοδομία -- Βραζιλία -- Σάο Πάολο
Ημερομηνία Έκδοσης:2008-02-12
Abstract:We present a study of the role of narratives in the process of rebuilding the memory of an “urban emptiness”. This empty area was created in 1976 by the construction of a subway line followed by a failed project of revitalization in Brás, an old working class district in the city of São Paulo. This analysis has, as principal goal, the discussion of the urban memory in the context of a peripheral metropolis whose urban and architectonic materiality illustrates not only the modern interpenetration between construction/destruction, but also the simultaneous ruin of places that have never been finished.This urban intervention destroyed 260,000 m2 of this region, displacing 5,000 people in a territory that was characterized by strong ethnic and neighborhood relations since the end of XIX century, and leaving behind a huge unfinished area near the subway station and the new apartment buildings that were part of the revitalization project. In the 90’s the city administration tried to “fill it” without success: initially as a public square (occupied by homeless), then as camelódromo (confined area for informal commerce, refused by the street vendors). In the beginning of 2002, the Brazilian NGO Arte/Cidade put there an artistic intervention, “The future in suspension” by Carlos Vergara, discussing the vanishing of the material urban history in global cities. From the presumption that the urban space is formed by several temporal strata that are articulated by a memory, which is not only architectonic but made of gestures and discourses (Cauquelin, 1982), we use the oral history as a tool for their articulation. We have made life histories and thematic interviews with different individuals, groups and institutions related to that space throughout different periods. In this reconstruction, a common image of that “urban emptiness” appeared in these narratives: “the cemetery”. To understand the transmission of this image, we analyze in a second moment the symbolical connection between oral histories and urban traces/emptiness, as well as between different histories. That is done by using the notion of anamorphosis (idem): a work of “time” over “places” operated by the language, gliding the meanings of the images, unifying and, at the same time, transforming them, crossing myth and history. Therefore, we will demonstrate how the language links different historical experiences to that common image, and at the same time, reveals how the symbolical element mediates the representation and appropriation of every group to that space, giving meaning to the “urban emptiness” and the traces of its memory.
Περιγραφή:Includes bibliographical references
Βιβλιογραφική Παραπομπή:Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Constructing urban memories: the role of oral testimony
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