Lontani Vicini. Processi di costruzione sociale dell'alterità in contesti locali: una comparazione fra Milano e Barcellona

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This thesis deals with identity/alterity processes of social construction in three neighbourhoods: Stadera and Benedetto Marcello, in Milan, and Poble Sec, in Barcelona. The aim was to understand the practical and symbolic processes of immigrants' inclusion and exclusion in three different contexts belonging to two different cities but which nevertheless share some recent and deep urban and social transformations.
In the first part, concepts such as community, neighbourhood, socio-spatial boundaries, the renewed value of place and defensive identities are analytical explored. This mainly to show how, despite the fact that the neighbourhood does not necessarily coincide with a "community", the latter can be used as a dispositive to establish the conditions of newcomers incorporation in the local context.
The second part of the thesis concentrates on the analysis of two main issues: the various ways in which public space is conceived and appropriated by different city users and the different changes which have characterised neighbourhoods commercial offers over time. In particular, it teases out the specificities of the three neighbourhoods, by focusing on the investigation of: 1. Benedetto Marcello's residents protest against urban "degradation"; 2. newcomers inclusion in the organisation of and participation in the fiesta del barrio and, at the same time, their exclusion as far as the protest against the construction of a Muslim oratory in Poble Sec is concerned; 3.the intercultural community building process that has taken place in Stadera.
This highlights residents' social representations of newcomers - who are mostly of non- European origins - and the practices and narratives through which the latter are excluded from or included in the enjoyment of urban space. The analysis of the three contexts is carried out against the backdrop of local authorities' different approaches to urban conflicts management, with an attention to urban public discourses on immigration, taking into account the two cities recent social history and the different models of governance which characterises them and which determines different modalities of relation between the citizens and the local authorities. Therefore, besides the similarities and differences among the three neighbourhoods, the analysis permits to compare the case of Milan with that of Barcelona, marked by different models of diversity management and conflict mediation in the urban space. Barcelona has in fact a model based on dialogue, mediation and rhetoric of peaceful coexistence; in the Milanese case, on the contrary, we find a model which exacerbates conflicts between groups framing them as "ethnic", with no apparent solution for coexistence and integration.
Date of Award1 Apr 2009
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
SupervisorFabio Quassoli (Director) & Enrique Santamaria Lorenzo (Director)

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