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2nd research workshop

25 Feb 2010 - 9:30 – 17:30

Auditorium 3

Free admission

Pauliana Pimentel (Courtesy Galeria 3+1)

Invitation to discover urban literary landscapes

Ana Isabel Queiroz (Institute for Studies of Traditional Literatures/Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Commentator: Rita Patrício (Centre for Humanistic Studies, University of Minho)

The Institute for Studies of Traditional Literatures (IELT) is engaged in an interdisciplinary research project with a powerful pedagogical component, designed to disseminate and support the landscape policy decision to create an “Atlas of the Literary Landscape of Mainland Portugal”. The aim of the project is to identify the representations of the landscape provided by 19th and 20th-century writers, and to relate these with geographical frames of reference at a regional and a local level. It also seeks to encourage the reciprocal enhancement of literary works and the landscapes that are represented in them and to contribute to our knowledge of the Portuguese natural and cultural heritage, the implementation of the European Landscape Agreement, and the improvement of environmental literacy.

More than being just a presentation of the project, this paper constitutes an invitation to the researchers of different disciplinary areas to join with the IELT in exploring the literary sources that form the corpus of the project, particularly within the scope of urban landscapes. 

Despite the fact that the ecocritical approach gives special emphasis to reflections upon natural environments and rural landscapes, this project assumes, in keeping with the legal framework currently in force (Decree No. 4/2005, of 14 February), that the landscape is a value in itself, and that the responsibility for its preservation does not distinguish between different types. On the contrary, for each of the landscapes identified, natural or built, rural or urban, ordinary or extraordinary, preserved or degraded, the challenge is centred on the establishment of landscape quality objectives.

What, after all, do we desire for our cities in a Next Future? Both our understanding of the identity of each place and our informed decisions about the fate of our surrounding environment live from memories, ideas and visions. And these also depend on the contribution provided by literary landscapes.


Living the city: fragilities and strengths

Francesca Negro and Manuela Carvalho (Centre for Comparative Studies/University of Lisbon)

Commentators: Teresa Marat Mendes and Pedro Costa (Dinâmia-Centre for Territorial Studies/Higher Institute of Business and Labour Sciences – CET/ISCTE)

This paper seeks to reflect upon questions relating to the transformation of the city as a living entity, as a space of identity and culture, into the modern museum city, with the relocation of its inhabitants, the redistribution of its population and the creation of pre-configured housing areas, alien to the territory and its fragmentation.

In what way does the fragility of urban spaces – areas that tell of the absence of an identity and underline social fractures – determine the perception that the individual has of the city and the way in which he or she relates with it?

In the present time, we are looking for a place that conserves the dimension of everyday life, in which there is a space that is appropriate for development (Levinas), a place on which we can act and project the convergence between the individual and the collective – Polis. But how can we find this in the midst of our cities, contaminated as they are by the delirium of their gigantic size and overexposure?

Based on these theoretical reflections, and a conception of a city without maps, “porous”, active and indissociable from experience (Lefebvre), the aim of the second part of this paper is to analyse an artistic phenomenon that is specific to Lisbon, allowing for a reflection on the city as a creative space in a permanent state of becoming something new, dependent on the interpretations that individuals make of the space that they inhabit, with the aim of turning it into a territory.


Symbolic Value of the Historic Centre of the City of Praia-Cape Verde

Lourenço Gomes (Centre of African Studies/University of Porto)

Commentator: Maria Cardeira da Silva (Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA/ISCTE), University of Coimbra, University of Minho, Lisbon New University)

The symbolic value of the Historic Centre of Praia is discussed in this work, through the interpretation and criticism of art, based on the description and methodical analysis of a series of elements of cultural and historical value, corresponding to the varied range of artistic creations, represented by buildings, sited along the different urban axes of the traditional city.

It shows a context that, on the one hand, highlights the theoretical and conceptual framework of the study, relating to concepts and paradigms that are important in the field of art, the history of art and architecture, underlining the problematics of the city and the historic centre. On the other hand, it contemplates the concern shown with the framing of the theme within geographical and historical contexts. In this latter case, certain facts are emphasised, which have led to the formation of the city under study and are related with the first moments in the history of Cape Verde, such as: the discovery of the territory and the formation of Cape Verdean society, its prior conditions, leading up to its emergence as a settlement, its rise to the status of a town in the second decade of the 16th century and to a city in 1858.

The study shows that the symbolic value of the historic centre, in the course of its gradual structuring until it attained its current appearance, is associated with the past, dating back to the early times of the formation of the settlement of Praia, and is enshrined in the main urban axes and their respective buildings. In essence, both the town planning and the architecture mirror local and exogenous aesthetics in terms of construction, displaying decorative solutions in a state of gradual evolution, superimposed on one another over time. They also express the development of building techniques, as well as systems of human relations established in the emerging society, involving living habits, material progress and the implantation of practices of religious worship, which have accompanied the life of the city ever since the settlement of its first inhabitants.


The Muslims in their cities

Collective authorship (Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA/ISCTE), University of Coimbra, University of Minho, Lisbon New University)

The western concern with Muslim cities and citizenship developed in the midst of proposals for an Islamic model of the city, the questioning of the existence of an Islamic city, the progressive focusing of interest on urban social and religious movements in Islamic cities and the growing attention being paid to the citizenship of Muslims in Europe. Meanwhile, cities from mostly Islamic contexts also engaged in processes of “otherfication” and were (and still are) confronted with cultural diversity, frequently expressed in religious terms. Neither the ones nor the others, thus mutually formed, have committed themselves to the exchange of historical experiences of more or less recent urbanity with the aim of solving problems arising from an otherness that is increasingly reified on the basis of religion. In this text, to be produced collectively by members of the Units for Anthropological Studies in Islamic Contexts of the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA), we seek to extend the reflection on Muslims in their cities, both old and new, into different continents, with majority of minority Muslim populations, sustaining it by the study of ethnographies of diverse and singular encounters, arguing that a way of thinking exclusively formatted by the principle of religious alterity, drawn on cultural maps and wavering between contrasting positions, is not productive, but instead reproductive of the reality that one seeks to objectify, and therefore of little use for projecting good cities and new ways of inhabiting them.


Cartographies of desire: the city as the space of the other

(and some notes about the city in Mozambican cinema)

Mirian Tavares/Sílvia Vieira (Research Centre for Communication Sciences and Arts/ Research Centre in Theatre and Film (CIAC/ ESTC), University of the Algarve)

Commentator: Helena Pires (Communication and Society Research Centre (CECS), University of Minho)

I look at the map of the city 
Like someone examining
The anatomy of a body...

Mário Quintana

Caio Fernando Abreu, when speaking about his city of origin, wrote: “I live in Menino de Deus, of which Porto Alegre is just what there is around it”. For this author, his city is not everything that is around it, but his own small corner, his neighbourhood, his microcosm. And in this way he speaks to us of our relationship with the city – it is metonymic. We create our own cartography, which is composed of fragments that we assemble to fit the drawing of our desire. I leave my neighbourhood if my desire lies outside of it, but my house, my city, is much smaller and is circumscribed not only geographically but also emotionally.

In order to assemble the puzzle of the urban space, we are guided by fundamental pieces that we detach from all the rest. And all the rest remains on the fringes. As in the cinema, what does not interest us lies outside the shot. In this way, my city is not just mine, I cannot share it, because it exists only in me. The other city, or the “real” city, is always another space, in which I walk but where I do not always see myself reflected. The psychoanalyst Maria Rita Kehl says that the city is the cradle of the common man – anonymous, part of the crowd. An ideal space for engaging in the necessary everyday forgetfulness about the fleeting nature of our experience in a space that is constantly changing.

The real city is the space of otherness, where we do not recognise those that we come across every day. They are invisible (like us). I therefore intend to analyse the urban space as the place for the recognition of the fracturing of the contemporary man, the place for various experiences in life and the constant forgetting of the other, of ourselves, of what lies around us. In the second part of this work, some notes will be presented about two spaces that become entangled as a mark of modernity in the African continent: the city and the cinema. In this case, the city in the Mozambican cinema. I talk about the way in which the western urban experience alters the gaze of those who have different stories to tell.

Art, according to Lyotard, does not say the unsayable, but it says it cannot say it. Through the viewing of some films from the Mozambican cinema, we shall therefore examine the way in which this urban space is put together. Cinema, which cannot say the unsayable, shows. In its own editing of the film, in its essence of consisting of fragments that are recomposed, it reveals a pain that cannot be sublimated, but which inhabits the inhabitants, who are frequently invisible in these cities.


The world is “wrinkled”: cities and their multiple territories

Renato Miguel do Carmo (Centre for Studies and Research in Sociology (CIES/ISCTE) – Lisbon University Institute)

Commentator: Ana Soares (Research Centre for Communication Sciences and Arts/ Research Centre in Theatre and Film (CIAC/ ESTC), University of the Algarve)

With globalisation and the intensification of financial capitalism, a series of metaphors was announced, according to which space would tend to be compressed and emptied in contemporary societies, being gradually replaced through the generalised spread of flows and electronic networks. The world would not only become increasingly flat and more compressed, but the ever greater speed would cancel out the concrete experience of the place, which traditionally anchored the contents of social interactions. From the theoretical point of view, the perspectives of individualisation and liquid modernity, headed by such authors as Ulrich Beck and Zygmunt Bauman, have contributed to this cancellation of space as a dimension to be taken into account in sociological analysis, insofar as they have given primacy to the factors relating to the decontextualisation of relationships and even social processes. In parallel to this, we have been witnessing an effective depoliticisation of places and territories, as if these were heading towards a certain “lack of distinction” between them, e.g. the rural, which now no longer exists or which tends to be swallowed up by the overwhelming uniformity of urbanisation. This paper seeks to present another view of cities and their territories, seeing them from the perspective of “wrinkled” spaces inside which contradictory processes are set in motion that then coexist in a state of constant tension. We will focus, in particular, on the tension produced between the processes of economic and financial growth that can be noted in the largest cities of the western world and the consequent intensification of the social polarisation expressed in the increase in social and territorial inequalities.


From Creative Cities to Urban Creativity?

Space, Creativity and Governance in the Contemporary City

João Seixas (Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon)

Pedro Costa (Dinâmia-Centre for Territorial Studies/Higher Institute of Business and Labour Sciences – CET/ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute)

Commentator: Teresa Barata Salgueiro (Centre for Geographical Studies, University of Lisbon, CEG/UL)

This text was developed under the scope of a research project that seeks to observe and interpret forms and flows of (socio-political and cultural) governance associated with creative (and cumulative) dynamics in cities and pro-urban territories: the “Creatcity” project. In this sense, it results from a preliminary work of theoretical (and critical) reflection on basic concepts (such as those relating to the creativity, vitality and governance of cities), and from the empirical projection of such perspectives through a series of interviews undertaken with key actors involved in both the thinking and the activities that are centred on the contemporary city (political decision-makers, official structures, actors from civil society) in three metropolitan territories: Lisbon, São Paulo and Barcelona. The next empirical step (which is also described here) was that of analysing 10 case studies relating to different realities of these 3 metropolises.

By joining together conceptual and empirical analysis, we seek to identify not only the different perspectives centred around the concepts of urban creativity and the creative city, and the dynamics of connectivity between creativity, vitality and competitiveness in an urban environment, but also the conditions that structure the sustained development of creativity in today’s city. All of these perspectives are examined in relation to their possible spatial/geographical configurations, but also under the scope of the cultural environments and economic activities that may be associated with them. In parallel to this, forms are considered for the promotion and the provision of public and private support to urban creativity, together with the discussion of political strategies and governance processes designed to increase its potential.

The importance of social elements such as types of actors and urban-spatial elements such as proximity, diversity and practices of mobility and everyday dynamics; organisational structures of greater or lesser rigidity; the different roles and pro-active behaviour of government apparatus of a more local nature in the fostering of creativity; these are some of the factors that are considered to be of vital importance for the governance of creativity in contemporary cities.

Keywords: Creativity; Urban Governance; Creative Cities; Lisbon, São Paulo; Barcelona


Raul Antelo (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil)

From cidade/city/cité to Babel

Commentator : José Maria Carvalho Ferreira (Research Centre in Economic and Organizational Sociology/School of Economics and Management – SOCIUS/ISEG)

The city configures an incessant network of movements and uses, not only for oneself and others, but also of a public and private nature. In such cases, any notion of origin is merely illusory, since the action derives from the intervention of outsiders. It is such people, with their nomadic behaviour, who display the uninterrupted transition from nature to culture, and, even more so, from one culture to another, the passage from one technique to another, always exhibiting the enigma of a trajectory without any foundation or final orientation: a circulation that does not cease to arouse and, at the same time, contradict a need to dominate space, through an undeniable demand for the fair sharing of that domain, in order, in short, to repel all forms of irreversible appropriation of the community. In modern art, Marcel Duchamp’s attempts to cubify a modernised city were, in this sense, emblematic, because they postulated the machine against the structure, an idea that, having been briefly sketched out in Bergson, was to become decisive in post-structural thought. Duchamp did not intervene either for the sake of memory or for the representation of experience, but in order to abolish the sacred and ordered dimension of urban space, and he thus proposed to us a first post-literary version of the western city, an iconology (or, perhaps, even an ichnology) of the Euro-American interval. He did not reveal for us Babel, i.e. a post-history. His heir was to be Roger Caillois, who also abandoned the robust mimetic tradition of the metropolis, which can still be found in his essay “Paris, a modern myth”, in order to think about Babel, the anthropophagous Latin American city, where people sheltered from the war. It was in this city that he tested his theory of cultural lotteries or para-state organisation, just as or even more efficient than the State itself, which not only foreshadowed the contemporary, but also provided us with the possibility of thinking of the city as an incessant translatability, an eternal and decidedly post-foundational beginning.


Xavier Vilalta (Xavier Vilalta Studio, Barcelona)

Melaku Centre (presentation of a practical case)

Commentator: Rita Raposo (Research Centre in Economic and Organizational Sociology/School of Economics and Management – SOCIUS/ISEG)

The Melaku Centre will be a new centre of education, work and project development for the inhabitants of the city of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, a region situated in the north of Ethiopia; a benchmark of sustainable development in Africa, from the design of the project to the programme that it involves. The project will be a self-sufficient ecosystem of knowledge, development and natural resources.

The geometry of the planning of the project is based on a fractal grid, a common strategy in African architecture. The classrooms are organised in small groups of 3 or 4 volumes. In view of the climate and the local architecture, the outside spaces are the most relevant and all the classrooms have natural cross ventilation. The green areas of the centre will include local species and all the buildings of the project incorporate energy and recycling systems to ensure that this centre is an example of development for the future of Africa.


Nelson Brissac (Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil)

Megacities – new urban configurations

Commentator: Kristian van Haesendonck (Centre for Comparative Studies, University of Lisbon – CEC/ UL)

The megacity is the result of an asymmetric and uneven development process. Intensive investment in enclaves of business and housing estates coexist with the abandonment of vast regions of the city. In these areas, there is a proliferation of slums, street trade, recycling activities and other informal means of occupying the urban space. There, various social groups develop their own mechanisms for survival, their own equipment for living and operating in the great metropolis. Artists and architects have developed projects based on the activation of these interstitial spaces and the diversified use of the infrastructure. Proposals that largely recover procedures engendered by the itinerant populations that occupy these empty urban spaces. Projects that are designed to detect the emergence of new urban conditions, to identify their lines of force and to instrumentalise their agents.