"Imagining the future landscape of Vallcarca: an ethnography of graffiti and their politics"
Plácido Muñoz Morán
Paper short abstract:
The mass tourism in Barcelona has created a tension between tourists and local inhabitants. This paper explores this tension looking at graffiti as a material object across processes of political participation and urban transformation in Vallcarca.
Paper long abstract:
The urban transformation of the Vallcarca neighbourhood in Barcelona and how it has become an arena for the empowerment and creativity of its inhabitants, constitutes the general framework of this paper. Following Ranciere's concept of the 'distribution of the sensible', I argue that experimenting with social and material relations produce 'communities of sense' (Sansi: 2015: 83), in which people become political actors engaging in new ways doing, being heard and being visible. In Vallcarca, a fundamental aspect of these 'communities of sense' is based on the interpenetration between human activities and the material elements of the present landscape. How do changes in the urban landscape shape the participation in politics of its inhabitants? And how do the properties of materials and local activism meet in the present and future of the Valcarca's landscape? According to Ingold (2013), the properties of materials are not attributes but histories on their ways to becoming something else. I am using the material surfaces of Vallcarca as a means to think about graffiti and the stories that they produce. For instance, the graffiti 'Tourist go home' or 'Good for the tourist, bad for the neighbours' keep appearing on the walls of Vallcarca. In this paper, I am going to explore how graffiti activate the urban landscape fostering encounters between different realities that don't normally meet. These encounters form part of an entanglement of social and material relations in which local political activism, mass tourism and the future of the Vallcarca landscape are at play.
"Bring back my neighbourhood!": heritage, expressive cultures and the production of urban ambiances for tourist consumption in the contemporary city