From cranes to alleys in L'Aquila post-earthquake
Rita Ciccaglione (Università di Roma "La Sapienza")
Paper short abstract:
Starting from L'Aquila earthquake, a paraethnography of urban governance and a street ethnography reveal a descending path from the cranes of the current greatest European building site to the context-sensitive good life "improvisation" of alley's teenagers.
Paper long abstract:
In the last decades, some authors consider the performing role of neoliberal capitalist system in creating and trying to impose times of crisis. This "capitalism of disaster" finds a very fertile ground in catastrophe-affected environment where destructive events are considered the crisis-generating factors, mainly regarding urban space and dwelling. Starting from the case of L'Aquila earthquake, I will show how both emergency and reconstruction management assume bio-political forms addressed to a process of urban space neoliberalization. The combined effects of disaster management on outskirts and centre produce a new urban layout, where multitopic living practices replace a stubborn centripetism. It is around this paradox, undermining the downtown role and its regeneration, that reconstruction urban planning takes place. A paraethnography of urban governance, following actors and agencies of technical expertise, traces the pathways that localize global development models in "ideas of city". In addition, a street ethnography fieldwork reveals how, in everyday practices, the "negative capacity" allows people to face the created suspension of urban landscape. There, I could participate to an alternative form of appropriation of downtown space that a teenagers group enacted, reworking destruction and emptiness into hip hop culture elements of rapping and writing. Engaging with them meant a progressive change from a "dark anthropology" to an "anthropology of the good". Analyzing the intrinsic power of the "how one should live" reconstruction formula led to a descending path, from the cranes of the current greatest European building site to the context-sensitive good life "improvisation" of alley's teenagers.
Anthropology of re-construction: exploring and thinking the remaking of broken worlds [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network]