(University of Lausanne)
Paper Short Abstract:
The analysis of street phenomena in Paris shows how artistic engagement and the occupation of land through urban gardening create commonality. The local social movement managed to preserve the architecture of 19th century workers' homes, and achieved to transform private into public space.
Paper long abstract:
In the beginning, migration studies have focused on class issues, namely on working immigration in Western Europe. With the cultural turn in the social sciences in the 1990s, class issues were less emphasized, whereas religious, ethnic and cultural belongings have been overemphasised.
The analysis of street phenomena in the Parisian district of Belleville shows how artistic engagement and the use and occupation of land through urban gardening create commonality. A common heritage in terms of working class history is discursively mobilised in order to argue in favour of a conservation of the district's architecture. The anarchistic urban gardening movement which emerged later on has also led to a successful change in local politics so that the inhabitants were able to keep their shared piece of land. Hereby, the local social movement successfully managed to preserve the architecture of 19th century workers' homes, as well as to transform private into public space. This political victory, enhanced by artist's performances, can be interpreted as a response to global political issues (class; ecology) on a local scene. The present study contributes to the development of anthropology of the street by long-term ethnographic research that was particularly based on the observation of (semi-)public events. Events that were announced and/or took place on the street were used as entry points to the fields and as a main focus of the analysis. This approach gives constructive answers to the critiques of methodological nationalism and provides an innovative example for the location of migration.
A challenge of street anthropology