Mining legacies: the case of Ouro Preto, Brazil.
Andreza Aruska De Souza Santos (University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores fluid perceptions of "local" and "foreign" for residents in Ouro Preto. Ideas of membership are not settled in this UNESCO world heritage site and tourists, students, temporary workers and local residents articulate different ideas of memory and inclusion.
Paper long abstract:
Many cities in Southern Brazil are the result of intensive mining activities. The pattern of work migration and challenging conditions imposed by weather and geological risk did not prevent some spaces to grow beyond a working ground. Ouro Preto has long greatly profited from the hunt for gold and other minerals. The boost in economy brought by mining activities meant architectural and cultural dynamism, and the city is today a UNESCO world heritage site. While mining activities continue, some people in town wonder whether mining or its legacies are a value to be preserved. It seems difficult to combine the preservation of a culturally and architecturally unique city with mining activities that require heavy machinery and the exploitation of the surrounding landscape. While today most of the local population works in the tourism sector, working migrants find occupation in the mining sector, resulting in divided interest between preserving the city and resource extraction. Hence, perceptions of outsiders in the city are fluid: tourists are taken as part of the city for many residents, while the perception about temporary workers is articulated differently. In addition, the local university greatly augmented its student and staff body in the last decade and those too compose a volatile residential group. This paper explores ethnographically how residents deal with newcomers in town. Concepts of what is "foreign" are fluid and related to economic activity, so that tensions between different users of the city resemble memorized narratives of social divide in this colonial town.
Re-membering transnational living heritages