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Accepted Paper:

On the sacredness of the concrete scale in urban conflict. A dispatch from the Maltese frontline  
Marc Morell (Rīgas Strādiņa Universitāte)

Paper Short Abstract:

In this paper I explore the sacralisation of the scale of the concrete in the opposition to development projects. The concrete not only has to do with opposing specific projects, it also involves severing these from the economic model that encourages them, hence precluding any successful struggle.

Paper Abstract:

In this paper I aim to explore the sacralisation of the scale of the concrete that many social movements across world profess in their opposition to development projects. While on the one hand the character of the concrete is expressed through the denunciation and mobilisation against urbanisation projects located in a specific time and place, on the other such concreteness manifests itself in the severing these from the economic model that encourages them, hence precluding any kind of struggle against it.

By illustrating this double movement with the heuristic capacity of the changing economic vision of the Maltese state in the last half century (from tourism development to the attraction of financial assets), I determine a continuum based on the spurring of the brick-and-mortar economy opposed by the laudable struggle carried out by organisations such as Moviment Graffitti, one that among other programmatic axes opposes these speculative projects. Yet the ritualised form that its protest takes privileges the local scale to the point of sacralising it, thus avoiding the questioning of the economic policy encouraged by the Maltese authorities.

I conclude that although the sacralisation of the concrete scale is strategically positive to be able to create alliances between agencies of all sorts where these projects take place, the lack of a connection of these with the national dynamics of the promotion of tourism and the attraction of financial assets only reinforces a Sisyphean struggle that does not seem to have an end date.

Panel P192
Rituals against gentrification: drama, performance and religious practices in spaces of urban conflict
  Session 2 Friday 26 July, 2024, -