Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationGeorgia State U.
Grant numberGr. 9731
Approve DateOctober 23, 2018
Project TitleGuano, Dr. Emanuela, Georgia State U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Aesthetics and the Resistance to Redevelopment in a Postindustrial Neighborhood'
Preliminary abstract: Scholarship in anthropology and related social sciences has devoted close attention to the aestheticization of cities and its role in fostering consumption not just in, but also of urban space. Yet, at a time when the pursuit of aesthetic experiences has become a diffuse practice cutting across class boundaries, its exclusive association with privileged urban groups has to be revisited. This project investigates how activists residing in the Bisagno Valley, a postindustrial periphery of Genoa, Italy, seek to mobilize resistance to redevelopment by teaching fellow residents new ways of sensing and making sense of urban space. Supported by the local administration, developers are turning Bisagno Valley into a US-style commercial suburb, thus perpetuating the neighborhood’s utilitarian status as a marginal service periphery. Activists, instead, attempt to rally residents around what they define as the valley’s heritage and beauty to resist yet another ‘cementificazione’ (overbuilding) wave. Through an analysis of the strategies activists enact to mold new spatial sensibilities, this project illuminates how grassroots movements may strategically embrace neoliberal economies of aesthetic experience in order to challenge neoliberal urbanism from within. As they teach residents how to ‘use’ rather than ‘consume’ the valley and its materialities (Agamben 2015), activists promote a non-commodifying approach to urban space: one that, by subtracting it from the utilitarianism of redevelopment, encourages residents to create a sensory and affective bond with the places of their everyday life.