The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationships between neoliberal institutional management of the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake and the local dwelling practices, which consequently originated in the new urban layout.
It presents itself as a post-catastrophe ethnography carried out from a specific approach, that is, the street ethnography that consists of collecting the practices and discourses of inhabitants, administrators, experts and commercial operators, which take place on or around the street.
Illustrating the stages from the declaration of the state of emergency to the expertise-proposed reconstruction models, it shows the differences between resilient strategies and policies of urban management and resistant dwelling practices that are analyzed progressively focusing on a particular social group: the teenagers of the alleys.
Descending in the alleys means to take a micro-sight that ables to identify present living paths.
Based on a long fieldwork, it bridges the gap between “theories” and practices, and it highlights those fields of action that despite being dominated by wide-ranging disaster management and urban planning logics bring out the work of social life in reweaving its threads in contexts of crisis.
Paying attention to a social portion that often escapes from ethnographic investigation, this study has the merit of dealing with teenagers in this kind of situation.
Indeed, this part of society and its creative “culture” receive the focus of a few studies, especially in case of catastrophes.
Ciccaglione, R. (2019), "Resilience and resisting resilience: ethnographies in neoliberal L’Aquila post-earthquake", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 501-512. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-02-2018-0064Download as .RIS
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The purpose of this study is to analyze the relationships and intersections between institutional disaster management and local dwelling practices in the aftermath of the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, referring to the urban space shifting. Considering disaster as a process (Hoffman and Oliver-Smith, 1999), it presents a post-catastrophe ethnography, which not only provides a temporal and processual analysis of disaster but also provides its descending reading from an institutional perspective to a micro-sight in everyday local practices.
It means to bring out the work of social life in reweaving its threads in contexts of crisis, despite the great scenographic rhetoric of emergency and reconstruction I am going to describe, by highpointing wide-ranging political, economic, urban planning and disaster management logics. It means to find in everyday practices that negative capacity (Lanzara, 1993) that allows people to face the suspension of the world that disasters cause.
To interpret the methods of construction and legitimization of institutional power and its disaster management policies, my study highlights those connections between culture of emergence and culture of resilience, leaving room for capitalism of disaster, which contribute to accelerate (Oliver-Smith, 1996) the transformations of urban space in a neoliberal sense. Moreover, through the street ethnography, I collected the practices and discourses in or around the street acted by inhabitants, administrators, experts, commercial operators.
My study can recognize that distinction that de Certeau (2010) operates between concept of city and urban practices. Whereas the former produces a panorama city, by organizing an abstract space through a top-down sight, spatial practices are made by those who “live ‘down below’, below the thresholds at which visibility begins. […] They are walkers, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it” (de Certeau, 2010, p. 145).
As mentioned in next paragraphs, from the first tent camps to reconstruction, the declaration of the state of emergency to the expertise-proposed development models, this study shows the differences between urban policies adopted in disaster management and a stubborn centripetalism in dwelling practices of inhabitants, analyzed following a specific post-earthquake social group, the teenagers of the alleys.
From a theoretical point of view, this path also means a progressive shift from a dark anthropology to an anthropology of the good. The former considers “several emergent trends in anthropology […] against a backdrop of the rise of neoliberalism as both an economic and a governmental formation” (Ortner, 2016) focusing on power, domination and suffering subject. The latter aims “to explore the different ways people organize their personal and collective lives in order to foster what they think of as good” and to realize such a project (Robbins, 2013). Looking for an integration between the two theoretical investigative formulas, the second perspective is precisely in relation to those models of well-being that are, instead, constructed, proposed and realized by power in its various facets.
The neoliberal use of emergency and resilience in disaster management: a theoretical framework
In culture of emergency, as defined by the author, catastrophe and destruction become legitimizing for the proclamation and definition of the crisis and the state of emergency, when action and choice can be contracted in the name of necessity and urgency.
The emergency of the situation and the danger for victims justify the exceptional intervention (Fassin and Pandolfi, 2010). A necessary limited temporality is activated, so that a specialized and professionalized action must be dedicated for the recovery management through the production of external expertise and technocracy (Revet, 2011). Emergency is built as governmentality (Foucault, 2005) corresponding to a state of exception (Agamben, 2005) wherein higher levels of government exercise their power in a completely centralized way.
In the last decades, we have moved from a culture of emergency to a culture of resilience within the disaster management and DDR policies (Benadusi, 2011a; Barrios, 2016). This category acquires a pre-eminent role by placing human beings at the center, as result of their adaptive relationship with the environment, and presenting catastrophe as an “opportunity” to better develop these positive skills of permanent adaptation (Benadusi, 2011a, 2013, 2014). Nevertheless, this agenda appears strongly standardized at both linguistic and practice level so that resilience is becoming a naturalized buzzword (Benadusi, 2014).
In fact, both the culture of emergency and that of resilience, representing change as a product of the catastrophe itself, allow capitalism of disasters to operate within them and in union with them. Both read the catastrophe as a disruptive and destructive element of a pre-existing order to which local institutions and communities respond with attempts to restore or produce a new structure. Both are aimed at resolving the crisis triggered by the disaster: the former by insisting on the urgency of the intervention and the latter by presenting the catastrophe as an opportunity for transformation and improvement.
In disaster capitalism, the rhetoric of the opportunity is activated through the instrumental use of the catastrophe by national and transnational governmental institutions to promote and authorize a series of private and neoliberal capitalist interests (Schuller, 2008). It is based on a mechanism of creative destruction, which Harvey (2007) identifies at the base of neoliberalism, highlighting how it always benefits from the exploitation of the crisis to legitimize a top intervention that manages the crisis itself, creating a tabula rasa (Klein, 2007) on which economic and political processes of development can be established.
More generally, contemporary neoliberal urbanism is expressed as a process that alternates moments of destruction with creative ones, favoring the neoliberalization of urban spaces (Brenner et al., 2009). Moreover, these kinds of mechanisms are recognizable in a broad trend of “re-representation” of the city and of its image linked to global capitalism, in configuring itself in forms of spectacularization, by looking at consumption, entertainment and cultural activities as driving forces for retraining and regenerating (Stevenson, 2003).
Furthermore, focusing on levels of resilience (Forino, 2012), it should be emphasized, as in the analyzed context, that the institutional one corresponds to certain narratives functional to the neoliberal power (Vale and Campanella, 2005), whereas the ones related to the people living in the affected areas, “to their personal experiences and individual representations of the catastrophe” (Zaccaria and Zizzari, 2016), do not correspond to an emic incorporation of the concept, neither in discourses nor in practices. Rather, by ethnographically observing the latter, it is possible to note some forms of resistance in the present to these strategies of resilience proposed for the future economic recovery of the city.
My fieldwork in L’Aquila began in June 2009 during the emergency phase (Ciccaglione, 2012). Although a brief description of that period will be provided in the following paragraph, referring also to other studies, the findings here presented are derived from a subsequent research step.
I spent 16 months (from April 2015 to July 2016) on the field with the aim of reconstructing a biography of post-earthquake relations between inhabitants and urban space, experimenting and mapping – and consulting maps and documents – this space through an oscillating attitude between participant observation and observing participation.
The author attended forums, conferences, meetings and public offices related to urban reconstruction and planning. Nevertheless, the plurality and heterogeneity of the actors that characterize the post-catastrophe stage led me to apply a multiplicity of methodological approaches to ethnography. If an attempted paraetnographic sketch (Islam, 2014) has constituted the method for the meeting with technical and administrative expertise, a street ethnography guided by an experiential approach (Turner, 2014) has represented the way of relating to the inhabitants and urban space.
I analyzed spatial practices in the relationship that space had with people who live it, by siting my ethnography in daily street life. Accordingly, roaming around in the street, I could observe, understand and meet people who explained to me their relation with post-catastrophe urban space among them and within it. I participated not only in practices, but also in talks, in the “chitchat” about the city. Being space inhabited and utilized, but also enunciated, told, described the street was both a setting of practices (including ethnography) and an object of discourses and representations.
Altogether, I conducted 100 semi-structured or unstructured interviews and collected mental maps also through walking interviews, my interlocutors, aged between 14 and 76 years (with an average age of 37), were mainly those whose place of work was in the downtown part, as well as its few inhabitants.
In adopting this specific placement, I focused on L’Aquila downtown certainly. Since both commercial activities and administrative offices are subject to continuous relocations, such as housing routes follow the progressive reconstruction, it is difficult to offer a typology that permanently locates people.
Nevertheless, it was impossible to understand it if it was not in relation to the town as a whole and the disruption of the previous urban layout. To grasp its following redefinition not just from a “central” point of view, during my long fieldwork, I interviewed many people who lived their daily work and housing life in suburbs. Moreover, I continuously experienced those spaces through the frequent movements that the urban layout requires, whether they are immediately out of the downtown, the resettlement sites, shopping malls or enormous empty spaces among them.
I interviewed 21 adolescents when they were living in a precarious housing path. After the earthquake, most of them moved from their own home first to the hotels, then to the outskirts or to neighboring villages in autonomous accommodations, in the CASE Project (Sustainable and Environmentally friendly Anti-seismic Complexes) or MAP (Temporary Housing Prefabs) sites. With them, it was possible to activate, through regular and long-term attendance, an experiential sharing in terms of resonance and reflexivity that arose not only in a mutual trust, but in a collaboration in building an ethnographic discourse, respecting their narrative (Ciccaglione, 2018).
The miracle narrative of emergency management
On April 6, 2009, a strong earthquake hit Abruzzo region, provoking 309 casualties, 1,600 injured and 67,500 evacuees and damaging or destroying tens of thousands of buildings. The most affected area was the town of L’Aquila and in particular its historical center with enormous consequences on heritage architecture and social life.
Emergency management was administered by the head of Civil Protection Agency, Guido Bertolaso, under the direct control of the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, through the toolkit of an external commissioner and extraordinary ordinances, as an exception to normal legislation and rules equivalent to a state-centralized decision making.
The state relief effort included some measures of temporary sheltering with the immediate provision of 170 tent camps within the municipality of L’Aquila, accommodating over 30,000 evacuees. Other 30,000 people were located in tourist hotels along the Adriatic coast (Pirone and Rebeggiani, 2015). Nevertheless, some actual reconstruction policies were included in emergency management. Two strategies were enacted for relocation: MAP were filled in damaged pre-existing villages, and large “new towns,” called CASE Project at 19 residential sites around L’Aquila, scattered away from the town center and from the first suburb ring (Forino, 2012).
The media attention and coverage during first emergency were part of a propaganda system based on a miracle narrative of management, in order to create a political and instrumental use of the catastrophe. Berlusconi asserted himself as a charismatic and salvific leader, who was able to offer inhabitants a “true” home, inspired by criteria of environmental sustainability and safety, guaranteeing their realization in record time (Ciccozzi, 2010).
In L’Aquila, the catastrophe management was expressed in an emergency response that crushed the intervention on immediate effectiveness and a specific narration of the disaster policies was produced through the political use of media communication (Marchezini, 2015).
During the immediate aftermath and out of any technical debate – in the name of a sudden response to the housing crisis, and a high standard as an alternative to the usual containers – CASE were presented as the best possible solution by national disaster management with the slogan “From tents to C.A.S.E.”. Moreover, their designated use, once the real reconstruction had been completed, was presented in the perspective of a future development of the territory, offering accommodation for tourism and university hosting sector.
Expertise reconstruction for a resilient city
L’Aquila emergency was definitively closed with the Law 134/2012, proposed by the Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Fabrizio Barca, and it contained a package of measures that determined the end of the emergency management and the restoration of ordinary administration by simplifying the reconstruction procedure.
Moreover, a number of studies were promoted for overcoming the emergency and strategically supporting local administration with guidelines for post-disaster reconstruction. Some reports were conducted by OCSE and the Groningen University, combined with an economic, a legal and an urban planning national commission.
The concept of resilience gets into the vocabulary of the catastrophe communicative frame. In the report entitled “Policy action after natural disasters. Helping the regions to develop resilience. The case of post-earthquake Abruzzo region,” the resilience of territorial systems is defined as “the ability to withstand and recover from external and adverse shocks, through adaptation processes that restore or improve the previous conditions of the system. A sufficiently high degree of resilience is essential to maintain or increase long-term well-being in places exposed to threats of natural disasters, whose occurrence may suddenly require new allocation of resources and the transition to a new development model” (OECD, 2013, p. 17).
Therefore, the recovery from the disaster has predominantly declined as a possibility of change and “economic” resilience to be developed in the future.
The urban development strategy proposed to achieve this goal is aimed at the European model of cities: the city of knowledge, the smart city, the creative city and, finally the open and inclusive city (OECD, 2013). Whereas the first model refers to the fundamental role of university, as of other cultural and research centers, in L’Aquila economic structure, the second one refers to the introduction of new technologies for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability (as the “Smart Tunnel” which is currently building in the downtown underground). The third one focuses on attracting users through the improvement of a cultural scene, especially with artistic and social events, and finally the fourth one promotes the participation of civil society in the city governance (through some initiatives such as the “Urban Center”). If the smart city, broadly and metaphorically, seems to include some possibilities declined through the others, all of them have at their core the aim to improve the territorial development and life quality.
Indeed, looking at urban planning documents, the culture of resilience is not so much articulated in terms of preparation for a potential future hazard due to catastrophic events (if not in direct relation with a technocratic resilience addressed to the reduction of seismic vulnerability), but toward a more general development of the territory, thinking of an “economic” resilience. In the “Preliminar document to the Masterplan” (2015) resilience, urban development and improvement of life quality are included in a single discursive frame wherein urban regeneration is the tool to achieve these purposes. According to international and European policies, their strategic combination represents the driver for increasing urban attractiveness, economy and social life.
Changing dwelling practices in the new L’Aquila town
To the effect of emergency intervention, the spontaneous action by private sector should be added in shifting the urban layout. Some wooden houses, as an independent accommodation response to housing crisis, contribute not only to the dispersion of space and to the land use increase but also to a series of shopping malls that arise in the immediate post-earthquake, often to accommodate those relocated activities because of their destructed or unfit declared premises.
The concrete outcome is an intensification of the expansive model for building density. The sprawling phenomenon, to which L’Aquila was already subjected, accelerates turning into sprinkling (Romano and Zullo, 2014), or the extreme dispersion of a dense settlement on large interstitial areas of the main conurbations. One of the few inhabitants of the downtown explains:
The change depends on the nefarious choice to create the so-called “new towns” that have spread a modest population on the territory […] To disrupt a city, projecting it like radial links on 19 unrelated points, unhooked among them, unassimilable among them […] C.A.S.E. scattered the population in areas of the territory and we do not understand what the criteria chosen by national politics […] That is to the origins […].
A 35-year-old girl who opened her shop in the rebuilding downtown illustrates the impact of the change of urban space has on living practices in its various facets:
The city has changed, because it has expanded but we are few […] So you go, running like mad […] I realize it with my friends, with the people before I usually met […] Now I don’t even know where many of them live […] Before we were everybody closer, we met each other almost every day in downtown […] There was the habit of a walk […] Now I have to phone and make an appointment with my friends […] Also the shops, you never know where they are […] Whenever I need a shop, for me it is as if it is located in the downtown somewhere, but instead you have to find the shop you want in a shopping center […].
Urban shape changes from a hierarchical polycentrism characterized by a concentric pattern, in which downtown was a protagonist over suburbs and districts, and was represented by inhabitants as a proud centripetalism, to a linear polycentrism wherein new centralities are monofunctional, punctual and poorly connected. Services and functions are dispersed and the distances to be covered are expanded; mobility, consumption and relationship habits change.
Other reconstruction policies, as the device of the equivalent substitution of damaged houses, contribute in changing the urban real estate market in a suburbanized characterization. A 50 year-old woman explains how her family decided to move:
My house was demolished […] Really, we didn’t choose, we checked around and around […] We didn’t move there because we liked that area […] Simply, we found what was right for what we needed […] It should be an equivalent house, of the same value […] So, we looked for a house which had the requirements of the previous one […] There are some parameters […] They evaluate your house and you have to look for that amount. We moved away because we couldn’t get closer […] We wanted to move towards the downtown area, but it was impossible […] Also because there wasn’t anything which had been rebuilt […] The main part of under construction houses were already owned […] Then we saw that there were homes for sale, but we all know that those houses had the most damage […] Prices haven’t increased so much, but there are no houses in the central area or you do not trust the reconstruction work.
Focusing on downtown, the extraordinary intervention during the emergency phase establishes a red zone, determining the prohibition of its use as an impassable place because of its lack of security. It tends to be a place of exception: homes as private property are declared condemned, first by law and then by expert evaluation, creating a space in which public authority takes over control and respect for order. However, special surveillance by National Army did not correspond to a real capacity for controlling space, and public authority failed also to maintain a public order in terms of cleanliness. The downtown became a tabula rasa in its physical material dimension wherein conditions of environmental degradation added to earthquake-caused destruction.
Moreover, since few families went back to live there, most homes were freely opened to everyone. As they were in a building site or violated over time, doors and gates were constantly open and houses were explored for various purposes by thieves, reconstruction workers, curious people, tourists and residents.
However, in the degraded center, there was room for a specific consumption regime, that of nightlife, so that downtown was presented in new urban conformation as one of monofunctional centralities in this characterization.
In the aftermath, to encourage the rebirth of downtown, public authorities took advantage of night entertainment as part of a University City that wanted to increase its attractiveness. Nightlife in the downtown, together with the production of cultural events, became a possible declination of the “idea” of University City that embodied the different models of cities offered by the expertise. Local administration created a device for declaring a partial compliance with safety standards and reopening to those activities was not in the destroyed premise but in the red zone. Moreover, the proliferation of bars and pubs was due to high prices in rental rates with which only this type of activity could cope in the absence of a veritable walking during the day because of building sites in progress. A 60-year-old grocer told:
Before the earthquake you could choose […] You found a location where you wanted and at the price that was right, because the town was alive […] But now crossed roads are few and rents are high […].
As University City, downtown was potentially gentrified through a studentification (Smith, 2005) already before the earthquake, as well as there was a nightlife. Anyway, it was perceived as being integrated into other activities that throughout the whole day were held in the center, part of a right to the city (Lefebvre, 2014) practiced by various subjects. Nowadays, the current monofunctionalization is connoted as a process of commercial gentrification (Semi, 2015) aimed at the creation of elite consumption spaces.
Teenagers in the alleys
In the described “red zone,” some of L’Aquila’s teenagers decided to live and “dwell” the downtown, enacting an alternative form to relate to the changing urban space. These young people composed a network of 20–40 subjects, with most of them being high school boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 19 years.
In teenagers’ dwelling practices, a sort of opposition between center and suburbs, between the city’s recognized center and those monofunctional areas of entertainment and consumption that emerged in immediate post-earthquake, arised. A 17-year-old boy explained:
We have started to come, to go out in downtown with friends, those that we grew up with, because the alternatives were two […] We were young, the first time we began to hang out with our friends […] Or you went to the shopping center, L’Aquilone […] And first, everyone went there […] Or you came here in the city center […] And because we have never liked the people who went to L’Aquilone, we said: “Do you know what? We have start going to downtown […]”.
For a part of teenagers, discotheques and shopping malls became places to avoid as consumer sites were attended by “swanky kids,” who led a different lifestyle. Thus, the center and specifically its alleys had lived as a place of distinction (Bourdieu, 1983) through explicit disagreement in how to live the town in peer relationships. A girl said:
I make some distinctions among people […] There are the swanky kids, those who dress up, they have “risvoltini”, the “pleated pants”, and go to the disco […] The males are more females than me […] Then, there are the more easy going people, with which sincerely I do better […] We do not need anything […] The scenario is what you create […] Buy the wine at Carrefour and sit on the ground and spend your time […] While other people consider it inappropriate […] So there are these distinctions […].
The use of urban space was fundamentally claimed by these teenagers (Lefebvre, 1976) rather than its consumption. Moreover, a 19-year-old girl said:
When we can find a meeting place, when you go out and you know what to do, where to go, you know you can meet the right people there […] It’s a bit like living in the downtown of the past […] Because the downtown “lived” before the earthquake, just like a center, a meeting center […] Go for a walk […] I didn’t lived this because I was a child, while mom and dad tell me how was like going out in the center […].
They seek such a space as a different form of sociality because older adults and relatives have used it and recognized it as a social and living space, the space always in “use” of the historical center. In an intergenerational transmission of the center-centered idea of the town, the continuity of practices is an unconscious (but not too much) claim of a right to the city (Lefebvre, 2014).
The assimilation that the red zone creates between public and private space, along with degradation and neglect, transforms the downtown into a “no-man’s land,” where lack of control allows teenagers to explore, to jump over, to enter where the doors are already open and to open them when they are closed. A boy said:
Then, after all, the “red zone” was everything. So, either you were violating or staying at home […] And about staying at home, we didn’t want to […] So we opted for illegality […] Anyway, it was to go into homes, that are private property […] So we grew up in illegality […] It was illegal that of going into the homes, it was illegal to write on the walls […] But it was a way we had to express ourselves […] It has always been a flee-run […].
Illegality becomes for these young people almost a required choice in which abandoned and empty space in the red zone is interpreted as usable.
Most of these teenagers process emptiness and destruction by creating relationships with places and channeling it in a specific cultural form: hip-hop. A 17-year-old boy explained:
We came here to be tranquil for writing, because basically we wanted to train […] And this was the focus of our experience related to hip hop […] We started writing here, doing freestyle here […] Because anyway there was nothing in L’Aquila […] Maybe it stimulated us to get moving, to find a way to escape […] For example, I started to draw and make graffiti […] And we had a whole “red zone” of building that would have been demolished to exercise […] And we started doing that, graffiti, writing and singing rap.
Another 18-year-old boy said:
Before there was hip hop in L’Aquila, but now there are many more people singing or doing graffiti […] Here in L’Aquila, hip hop has been used for this, to express ourselves, to communicate our problems […] Hip hop is social protest […] I want to talk about what I don’t like, to express what I feel and make you understand […] But also for beautiful things […] It is also a way to joke […] You have seen in Piazza Palazzo, the parties always end with a rap all together […] Hip hop is something thanks to which we can communicate […] Maybe, it is the hip hop that made us to be so, I mean it brings people together […] We share this aspect, this vision in addition to other things […].
The illegibility of the center is filled by filling silence with music, walls of houses with writing and bombing. Hip-hop is taken as a form of use of urban space. Rap becomes a soundtrack to the experience of these young people in continuity with the immediate post-earthquake in which new crews were born and earthquake-dedicated mix tapes were recorded. Actively, freestyle becomes a narration of the relationship with the city, writing a form of the appropriation of the alleys, primarily a form of use of these spaces. In addition, the cultural universe of hip-hop is re-imagined by adolescents and the practices of this world become identity in peer relationships and in the relationship with the town.
The dwelling practices that teenagers act in the downtown alleys are more than a mere appropriation ‒ a real production of spaces of desire (Harvey, 2015) through the daily use of places for the their own needs. Through the creativity of hip-hop, part of L’Aquila’s teenagers claim a right to use and access to the city in that place that embodies such a right in the spaces of representation, reinventing it through their wishes.
They resist to social space displacement by presenting this idea in the downtown through action and by opposing peers who take on other space practices. They find in the relationship between subjects and places the way to define the relationship among subjects in the places and among places in the representations of subjects.
They adapt and elaborate the space they find available as a stage, producing tactics in favor of desire, promoting the satisfaction of their personal needs, aiming to transform their existence but without contribution of real changes to the social order, by perceiving and experiencing it in daily life and in the present. A 17-year-old boy said:
Now, growing up it is a little less, but I always have been seen as the one who smoked joints in the alleys, to which you had to be careful of […] There is a verse of a song […] “Clutch your shoes, in the mirror turn up your nose, more you look fouler more you feel a rapper” […] It was like that […] How fucking true it is […] You really feel satisfaction!
Their practice is very similar to the resistance of the Hammertown lads described by Willis (2012). Indeed, those teenagers resisted actively to the dominant cultural model received at school, opposing their working class values. Similarly, the teenagers of L’Aquila alleys adopt their “street culture” as an opposition that they make primarily among peers “to protect their identity, threatened by the rules of behavior, by the languages and the orientations of privileged value” (Benadusi, 2011b, p. 25) from the consumption models of urban neoliberalism. The teenagers of the alleys choose to perpetuate the old space of representation of the city and, with it, the right to the city itself that it represented in spatial terms.
Discussions and conclusions: resisting resilience?
In L’Aquila, disaster management carries out a process of creative destruction for the space of the city as a whole and for the downtown in particular. The urban planning intervention, implemented through the extraordinary and emergency procedure, activates a series of mechanisms for the neoliberalization of urban space, which can be certainly described as capitalism of disaster.
Brenner, Peck and Theodore, analyzing the transformations of the built environment and urban layout, underline the destructive moment of the “restructuring of the urban real estate market” to which a creative moment of “emergency and transition provisions for the homeless” (Brenner et al., 2009, p. 60) corresponds, as CASE and other examinated institutional tools. Moreover, the establishment of red zone was a destructive moment on which a neoliberalization of urban space could be built, aimed at the production of specific areas of consumption and leisure. (Brenner et al., 2009).
Actually, the increasing cultural and economic integration on European and global scale contributes to define the degree of competitiveness among cities on the contemporary scene. It is possible to identify real trends around which city models are built and subsequently the broader discourse of urban development is also built, which are indicated as universal recipe for pursuing the goal.
Even in L’Aquila through external consultancy and expertise, these trends become part of the urban planning agenda, in which a city must develop strategies that can increase its attractiveness to individuals and businesses through the acquisition of certain characteristics such as a high degree of environmental quality, connectivity and energy efficiency (Calafati, 2012). Consequently, reconstruction practices dependent on strategic decisions implemented by actors in positions of influence, whether institutional or socio-political, directly influence the built environment, its transformation and the social relations that take place in it, legitimizing it through the declared will of implementing the life quality.
In this, a penetration of the rhetoric of resilience in the culture and management of emergency could be noted, by implying the idea that the reconstruction period can become a bridge between urgency and development (Benadusi, 2013), by seizing the catastrophe as an opportunity. Strategies of resilience are trained through a technocratic and economic guideline, in which reconstruction becomes a way for intervening after the disaster to better rebuild and improving the living conditions of the affected population.
In this regard, Barrios (2017) emphasizes how the emergency management also assumes a biopolitical connotation wherein “the decisions that […] powers make do not so much concern the killing of bare life to protect a biopolitical social body […] as they do about what kinds of lives are deemed worth living and which are not” (pp. 237-238). Nevertheless, it is possible to think about the daily practices of adolescents of the alleys as resistance in the present that guarantees continuity to the spaces of representation and to the practices of the city space as a complex cultural system.
They do it by improvising, combining the elements of the available space, using it creatively and resisting primarily to models of cities and consumption, which seem to be complicit in managing disasters wherein the culture of resilience offers the side to the capitalism of disasters. Therefore, the gaze into the alleys allows to ethnographically touch the anthropology of the good in the meeting with these social actors and with the creativity they put in place for the production of spaces of desire.
Ethnographic research demonstrates how in post-disaster contexts, political and cultural elites attempt to define recovery in ways that align with their socioeconomic interests. Moreover, it also documents how subaltern groups can challenge dominant narratives of what it means to “rebuild better,” definitely clarifying “that defining success in disaster recovery, or resilience, is a polyvocal and contested process” (Barrios, 2016, p. 33).
Therefore, resilience can be recognized as a function of political power, in which physical reconstruction becomes a description tool of propaganda and consensus, by relying “on a dominant, progress-oriented narrative, one that sees the devastation and reconstruction of cities as nothing more than an extreme version of the usual processes of capitalism of creative destruction” (Vale and Campanella, 2005, p. 15). On the other side, ethnography shows that some local dwelling practices can resist to this path and choose alternative ways of being “resilient,” “if by resilient we mean the capacity to carry on, improvise, and survive despite overwhelming challenges” (Barrios, 2016, p. 31).
Definitely, the creativity that the teenagers of alleys act in the process of producing places of desire can be understood as a “negative capacity” in self-determinating own routines, in acting and making sense to them, in different contexts (Lanzara, 1993). It is a form of cultural improvisation, which unfolds by modulating the circumstances of the present environment and the performative engagement with its materiality. It is a power of adaptation and response to the conditions of a world-in-training (Hallam and Ingold, 2007), an ability to imagine and produce social space and a right to the city improvising “places” in a space wherein sociality is banned or commercialized.
It consists of an unusual extension of power, based on the sovereign’s ability to transcend the rule of law in the name of the public good, and it becomes a normal paradigm of government in the twentieth century.
It favors the deregulation of the market by depriving public authorities on behalf of private entrepreneurship, allowing a colonization of the same state through a privatization of profits but maintaining costs and losses on the public finances.
It is the structure of Italian Republic Government in charge of the coordination of policies and activities on defense and civil protection. It deals with the forecasting, prevention, management and overcoming of disasters and calamities and other emergency situations at a national level.
The acronym coincides with the Italian word “case,” whose meaning is “homes.”
The sprawl typically distinguishes aggregate growth to pre-existing parts of the city, preserving a continuity of the urban fabric as it increases its spatial development.
In this square, guys used to celebrate the 18th birthday, bringing with them some alcohol to offer to friends who were invited through a word of mouth.
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