9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS07 Memory, Culture and Public Discourse

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Constructing Collective Memory in City, Suburb, and Country Building I, 1E7

Bridge-memory, Trench-memory: The pragmatics of urban memory in the attitudes towards foreign immigrants in two neighbourhoods of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area

The construction of historical memory of cities and neighbourhoods is a typical process of our times. Notwithstanding, its signification is not straightforward, as we may speak of a complex pragmatics of memory.

This paper will explore the pragmatics of urban memory in relation to the immigration phenomenon in Catalonia, Spain: urban memory may play different roles in the public opinion?s attitudes towards immigration. The study is based on ethnographic research developed in two urban neighbourhoods with a notable presence of (former) internal immigrants (a rural-urban migration from the South of Spain to the urban Catalonia of the 50s to 70s ) and foreign migrants.

The urban memory of internal migrants may be used and built as a bridge or as a trench in their relation to the foreign ones. Although we may find this double dynamics in both neighbourhoods, this paper will explore the contextual factors that determine the predominance of one or another. In one of the cases, most of the native population tends to identify itself with the new migrants by reviving their difficult integration process; while in the other, the memory of the past is used as a difference mark against the new immigrants. However, in both cases, the hegemonic memory it is not a monolithic narrative, but rather a dynamic discursive object that re-positions itself in function of the contextual factors of a given time and space. In this sense we may speak of complex pragmatics of memory that people, groups and institutions constantly (re)construct.