Infoscience

Conference paper

Urban Movements in Lisbon’s Crisis Environment

Within a context of a social and economic crisis, the city of Lisbon is shyly starting to thrill with desire for change. Several socio-cultural spaces, with different degrees of autonomy from the state and the market forces, are having in fact an important role in this city’s regeneration, revealing the existence of, and this is our departing hypothesis, a wider urban movement. Several issues come then into the table of discussion: Does an urban movement need to be recognized? If so, by whom? The authorities? The actors themselves? Should they be aware of the movement existence, knowing each other and having previously discussed common interests? Or would it be enough that the movement could be recognizable from an outsider perspective, as a “whole” that actually stands for the same principles, rights and interests, even if the actors are not officially working in a network and/or are not completely aware of such a course of action? We shall, first of all, describe these spaces and explain why we understand their emergence and their activities as an urban movement. The corresponding social and urban context shall be exposed and divided into three neighbourhoods that are about to converge into one (Mouraria, Intendente, Anjos), or at least to become physically linked through particular impulses of socio-cultural fluxes along a linear element (Rua da Palma / Av. Almirante Reis). The subject of urban scale spatiality as well as localized occupations and appropriations of spaces are central to the understanding of the whole process. This spatial development, which is influenced by those different fluxes coming from opposite sides and has been reinforced with the recent physical displacement of the Lisbon’s Mayor central office into Intendente, generates a particular kind of gentrification (Ruth 1964; Smith 1996). Three types of gentrification are, as a matter of fact, taking place: one that evokes the traditional, then touristic and finally multi-cultural city (Mouraria), another one that evokes the Creative City (Intendente, Florida 2002; Landry 1995), and finally one that evokes the artist-activist occupation of the “forgotten” city (Anjos, claiming the right to the city: Lefebvre 1968). However, the three phenomena become a single one when it comes to the will of these neighbourhood’s inhabitants of wanting to recover the lost organic social structure and conviviality. In fact, their strength comes particularly from the specificity of their programs, like the creation of certain events or the most diversified workshops/courses. Recycling and participative architectures are also encouraged, as well as urban gardening, cycling as a way of moving in the city, or convivial meetings around shared kitchens. Many or most of the main actors related with these spaces belong in one way or another to wider and known urban activist movements, just like “Plataforma 15 de Outubro”, “Precarios Inflexíveis”, “Movimento Sem Emprego”, “Indignados”, “Geração à Rasca” or “Massa Crítica”.

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