Workshop on Field in Public History
The 2nd International Workshop on the Informal City is the following step of the 1st International SELF MADE CITY Workshop. The aim of the current workshop is to deepen the issues of the giuded tour in Valle Borghesiana.
Informal settlements, a historical and social phenomenon
In Italy the phenomenon of informal settlements, although deeply rooted in society, is still defined by the negative term of „abusivismo“(1). The phenomena of self construction, self organization and (self) recovery of these territories is locally still regarded as minoritarians or deficitarians events, a mere incident in the path of history and official urban planning. Indeed it is a matter of fact that these events have characterized the development of urban spaces from the Italian post-war period until nowadays. In our opinion, starting to overcome these clichés and preconceptions is a matter of crucial importance. Researching and reflecting these complex historical, sociological, anthropological and political phenomena will provide a new consciousness and understanding of European Urban Space.
UrbanXchange in Borghesiana
Valle Borghesiana is an area developed since 1970 out of informal buildings. Now it is part of the legalisation procedure called „Toponimi“. In Italy, this are the second generation of recovery and legalisation plans for informal houses built until 1994. These projects for the rehabilitation and creation of infrastructure are promoted and financed by the local people who built the settlement, who are organized as associations and consortia, and which is subsequently reviewed and approved by the municipal council. On the one hand, the new administration structure leaves more room for the political participation of citizens in this settlements. On the other hand the micro conflicts are now mainly negotiated in within the community by the local associations and consortia and then implemented by private enterprises. This procedure provides considerable benefits to the municipality of Rome and can be understood as a general trend of downsizing of the welfare state.
In general, we recognize in these informal areas the collective efforts in building and in providing primary services to the community, which has led to elaborate forms of social cohesion and responsibility. These areas, formerly built by migrants from southern Italy currently are favourite residential zones by international migrants, who find here lower housing prices compared to most central areas of Rome.
In these microcosms there are bizarre realities. Last summer 100 immigrants waiting for regularization of political asylum procedure were installed by the Italian ministry of the interior in Valle Borghesiana. After the landing in Lampedusa the migrants were displaces from the overcrowded CPT(2) to Borghesiana.
How is the presence of the new inhabitants perceived in this area that was built by rural Italian immigrants? Are there conflicts and tensions arising? Is the concept of „community“ changing? Has it to be reformulated? These questions seems to be of imminent importance since the municipal council of Rome is actually led by a major of the right wing party Alleanza Nazionale and even „traditionally“ left quarters of Rome, included Borghesiana, changed the political majority during the last elections one year ago.
The Workshop „Public History“ participation and the territory
During a workshop with the local inhabitants and in collaboration with Consorzi di Borghesiana, we will collect personal stories and collective experiences in order to reconstruct the history of the settlement: the construction phase, the phase of self organization and collective negotiation in within the community and with the political authorities until the formation and consolidation of this settlements. Starting from the point of view and in collaboration with the protagonists, we will develop a public presentation and visual narrative.
The other key point of our intervention on the territory is the question around the issues of (new) immigration and the processes of exclusion and inclusion as the question of the formation of a new concept of community in this very special neighbourhood: What are the common grounds of historical national and the new transnational migration?
In the framework of Valle Borghesiana urbanXchange’s aim is to create an exchange between local inhabitants, national and international experiences inviting cultural producers from various disciplines and cross disciplinary experience as artists, theoretician, planners and activists who are working in similar topics to partecipate to our workshop.
The project will form the basis for further local and international exchanges in the framework of field researches and public discussions as well as conferences and symposium. The outcomes of the workshop will provide, as further step the resources for the production of audio visual materials, a publication and an exhibition that will collect and give visibility to these experiences in history, self organization, collective and political negotiation describing the Italian experience, actually increasingly underestimated and putting it in comparison within an international context.
Imparare da Borghesiana is a project by urbanXchange and Consorzi di Valle Borghesiana and Ponte di Nona Pratofiorito.
Antonella Perin, Susanna Perin in collaboration with Jochen Becker, July 2009
(1)From Italian: unfairness, illegality
(2) CPT (Centri di permanenza temporanea): temporary stay centres