Calls > Session 14

14 – Memories of (un)desirable territories: Looking at metropolitan transformation through the lens of local identities

Co-facilitators: Adriana DIACONU (PACTE) & Grégory BUSQUET (LAVUE)

The notion of desirable/undesirable territories is related here to the idea of public action that seeks to bring about socio-spatial changes in order to make a current situation more desirable. One of the objectives of this session is to add a temporal dimension to metropolitan planning actions, by comparing them with the memory dimension of territories. Everyday experiences in cities (Boym, 2011) produce collective identities that are in turn the product of social groups that assert, in this way, their belonging to communities on the basis of common present needs (Blokland, 2001). But how do such spatial memories that have an impact on social morphology participate in the construction of appropriated territories (Halbwachs, 1938) and in their transformation? Furthermore, how can urban and metropolitan development benefit from these processes?

We aim to compare these collective memories with urban changes, be they planned or spontaneous, in order to identify their ties with territories and collective identities, and to consider how they might be taken into account in the planning process. We can use this lens to look at case studies in territories of different morphology, from urban to suburban, such as former working class districts, places undergoing gentrification, regeneration, renewal or even demolition and reconstruction, as is often the case for informal settlements, slums or urban interstices. By comparing different international case studies we hope to ultimately find commonalities between different memories, be they devalued or showcased in the planning process.


Blokland T., 2001, "Bricks, Mortar, Memories: Neighbourhood and Networks in Collective Acts of Remembering", International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 25(2), June 2001, pp. 268-283.
Boym S., 2001, The Future of Nostalgia, New York, Basic Books.
Halbwachs M., 1925, Les Cadres sociaux de la mémoire, Paris, Albin Michel, 1994.
Halbwachs M., 1950, La Mémoire collective, Paris, Albin Michel, 1997.
Halbwachs M., 1938, La Morphologie sociale, Paris, Armand Colin, 1970.

Expected types of paper

Contributions to this session should be based on the results of empirical fieldwork or, alternatively, should analyse different research experiences or present theoretical approaches and methodologies responding to different national and cultural contexts.

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