First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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Alessandra Micoli

BEING THE PROTAGONISTS OF THE CITY: COLLECTIVE ACTION AS A MEAN FOR NEGOTIATING ONE’S PLACE IN HISTORY. A case study in Milan, Italy

Alessandra Micoli

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     Last modified: May 15, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/11/2007 11:30 AM in ISCTE-II C103
     (View Schedule)

Abstract
The paper focuses on a urban transformation process, become the arena for power negotiations between politics and social movements.
The area concerned is Isola, a central neighbourhood of Milan, once an industrial and crafting district, is now living a gentrification process. This transformation process has received an impulse by a renewal project led by the Municipality, against the firm opposition of a heterogeneous group of civil society actors (associations, committees, parties).
The actions of Isola social movements don’t constitute only new ways of conceiving urban planning, or just manifestations of Nimby syndrome, but they appears, too, as processes of identity construction. This symbolic construction becomes a strategic tool for political mobilization and the base for the affirmation of power. Isola field-work leads to another possibility, quite relevant to anthropology of civil society, i.e. the possibility to go deeper into the field of social movements, re-considering or just sharpening some too often simplified oppositions such as top/down, State/civil society. The process observed in Isola neighbourhood shows how differently each group succeeds in creating his identity and belonging to a place, by the aim of different languages and strategies, and how often those groups may even collide.
The power relations between state/civil society or between different groups of civil society, and the relationships so created, seem the base for the construction or re-appropriation of, as De Martino italian anthropologist would call it, one’s place in History.

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