viernes, 27 de septiembre de 2013

Promised Lands, Internal Colonisation In 20th Century Mediterranean History

Promised Lands, Internal Colonisation In 20th Century Mediterranean History

ESF Exploratory Workshop. Rome / Sabaudia (Italy), 7-10 October 2013

Main Objectives of the Workshop:

The workshop deals with experiments of internal colonization implemented during the 20th century in the Mediterranean area, compared from a trans-disciplinary perspective combining both retrospective explanatory theories and prospective reflections around issues such as: mechanisms of nationalisation, macro-regional identities, forms of political government and economic development, town and country planning policies in regard to architectural expression. New paradigms such as the “spatial turn” in the Humanities and strategic societal issues in the spatial disciplines shall be explored, as well as further collaborative research and teaching activities across the fields involved.

Sabaudia. Luigi Piccinato 1933-34 (arch. J.M.) 
The fall of the Sublime Porte and the Treaty of Versailles led to a radical reshaping of the geopolitical balance of the regions bordering the Mediterranean sea. An Empire collapsed into a new national entity, European colonial powers extended their hold on the southern provinces, and more fragile European nations were compelled to fortify their position in the new economic and political order, while collective identities previously encompassed by Ottoman cosmopolitanism laid their claims for national emancipation. Within this frame, issues of demography, national wealth and modernization were closely interrelated. Among the answers devised to face these new epochal challenges, the emerging Nation-States of the Mediterranean region initiated large and ambitious campaigns of internal colonisations which entailed the repopulation and re-organization of the countryside based on land reform, reclamation projects, technical improvements, increase of productivity, social engineering, the foundation of urban and rural settlements, the building of public and collective equipments. Each of these experiments was characterized by peculiar expressions of agrarian and national ideology conveying strong symbolic values closely bound to nation-building projects and nation-making processes. The guided return to land and agriculture was paired with alternative promises of a better future: a strong autarchic nationhood (in Italy and Turkey), a place in the sun along the fourth shore (in Italian Libya), a truly Hellenic citizenship (in Greece), a pacified, assimilated and civilized countryside (in French Morocco and Algeria), a messianic and secular autoemancipation (in Zionist Palestine), a political centrality of the rural realm (in Spain and Portugal).

In their differences and peculiarities, these experiments show common features. While some had roots in previous undertakings, they all took off during the interwar period but obtained their most significant results after World War II under renewed general premises. Ideas, experts, models and techniques widely circulated from one country to another across the century. Three major pillars supported the planning policies: economy, bureaucracy and national culture (ideology). The underlying political models were at stake too, oscillating between federalism and centralized government.

Comparing a relevant number of case studies, from the viewpoints of different disciplines seldom converging over a consistent topic, the workshop explores the similarities and differences between each experiment. From this perspective, a few preliminary hypotheses shall be verified. To which extent can these experiments of internal colonization be considered a key to the understanding of the unfolding of each country’s contemporary history? Which social, political and ideological agencies established through these experiments are still at play in each national context and determine presentday issues? As far as the relations between overlapping economies, cultures, populations and landscapes are concerned, is it possible to outline from the analogies between each case study a peculiar Mediterranean contribution to the idea and reality of Nation? How did settlers negotiate their previous individual and collective identies within their new setting? Did they develop devices of integration or instead establish new exclusive identities? How was the issue of transmigrating settlers’ citizenship addressed, and how can past experiments of internal colonisation help to face present-day of transoceanic migrations? What can these experiments tell us in regard to paradigmatic relationships between city and countryside which could cast a light on present-day spatial planning issues?

What place did the disciplines of architecture, urban design, landscaping or even the shaping of settlement forms at the territorial scale hold in such experiments? Were all internal colonisation campaigns planned experiments? How did such campaigns engage with different agricultural and economic models, and how resilient have such models shown across the century? Were they based upon extensive seed-culture in order to guide the transition of the Mediterranean area from a network of extroverted regional economies projecting on international markets through cosmopolitan port-cities and emporia to introverted national markets and economies intended to supply rising capital-cities? Did they have positive or negative environmental impacts, and how were such impacts eventually anticipated or addressed? What have the rural and urban settlements, the farms and collective buildings, the fields and landscapes established during the last century become today? Is their present role as places of agricultural production and local identity at stake? How can we combine their preservation as a cultural heritage with the improvement and mutation of their significance within a changing context?

In the last decades, a growing interest has risen among scholars from many disciplines for the mechanisms and tools of nation-building implementation. Within this frame, historians, sociologists, economists, geographers have realized that the traditional written and oral sources fall short in the unfolding the deeply cultural and anthropological consequences entailed by the development of national identities in space and representation. A growing request – usually termed as “the spatial turn” – is coming to the fore for the disciplines of planning to supplement the shortcomings of traditional categories and ideological interpretative keys.

Esquivel (Sevilla). Alejandro de la Sota 1953 (Arch. INC)
On the other hand, planners, urban historians and architects are overcoming the previous modernist ideology and are looking back not only to the ordinary spaces of everyday life, but also to the rural realm and to those experiments which had not received from the dominant historiography the same clamorous attention as the modernist avant-gardes did. Topics such as colonial and rural architecture and planning or ordinary and productive landscapes are becoming a growing field of research. Many international networks and scientific works are exploring the works of European experts in the Mediterranean regions, focusing on the preservation of what is termed a “shared heritage”, while others are tracing back the ties between the development of Modern architecture and planning with the vernacular. However, this growing attention is still dominated by an almost exclusively aesthetic approach, failing to reframe the past experiments within the wider political, cultural and economical context. Besides, environmental, agricultural and food-production issues are becoming evermore critical to the disciplines involved in spatial planning, providing new programs and objectives for planning and design. However, such issues are still undergoing a process of trial and error, while very few examples tackle their spatial and cultural expression.

The workshop gathers both accomplished and young scholars which can boast research over topics closely related, and which have their roots in one of the previously described attitudes but are explicitly demanding a wider cross-disciplinary approach. The workshop provides this opportunity of exchange between fields of research traditionally distant. Since the topic involves facts, expertise and knowledge which is by definition located in both European and non-European countries, an effort has been made to have the most ambitious representation of the extra-UE scientific world.
The workshop is expected to open up to new breakthroughs as each contribution shall complete the areas of knowledge uncovered by each participant, allowing for two major changes of paradigm: the possibility for scholars from the humanities to grasp the spatial, territorial and symbolic expression of their case studies; the possibility for scholars from the spatial disciplines to reconsider their interest in historic experiments within a wider societal frame in order to nurture and illuminate present-day issues to be addressed through planning and design. Hence, the workshop is an opportunity to share international networks and contacts, and to establish wider collaborations. In this specific field of research, scholars are often suffering a sense of isolation or a lack of skills regarding issues that are out of their reach.

3 comentarios:

  1. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.

  2. El pueblo de la foto no es Vegaviana ( arquitecto José Luis Fernández del Amo) en la provincia de Cáceres, sino Esquivel ( si de Alejandro de la Sota), en la provincie de Sevilla

    1. Efectivamente, es un error, estaba en la documentación del encuentro, ya está corregido.