The Instrumental Uses of Memory in Urban Conflict: Barcelona's Can Ricart Industrial Site
Institut de Govern i Polítiques Públiques Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain
This paper explores the production and use of memory by different urban actors in conflict. Through the study of the preservation and uses of the Can Ricart industrial site in the Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona, this paper analyzes the use of memory as a power resource that evolves during a conflict and that determines a series of outputs for urban public policies.
In 2000 the 22@ plan was approved, with the objective of transforming the industrial neighborhood Poblenou into a new technological and business district. This process has generated mobilizations by part of different associations on the Poblenou, who claimed the preservation of the industrial heritage and the improvement of different local social services. One of the most important conflicts centers on Can Ricart site, due to its architectural characteristics as well as the intensity of citizens' mobilization. Through the case-study in question the paper will develop the following issues: - The tensions that arise between regeneration and preservation. The opposition between the local history promoted by 22@ (the triumph of technological renewal over an industrial past) and the collective memories of the inhabitants local groups which are tightly related to a contentious workers' consciousness. - Social conflict as a generator of collective memory. Memory studies have revealed the role of "traumatic" episodes (natural disasters, holocaust, etc.) in the generation of collective memories. Coalitions of plural actors (artists, workers, etc.) opposed to the demolition of Can Ricart showed also the strength of social conflict as a generator and recuperator of histories and forgotten memories in an urban conflict during the process of legitimization of their demands. - The absence of industrial sites from Barcelona?s official historical preservation polices. Heritage policies in Barcelona have been traditionally focused on pre-industrial and modernist structures, where tourist promotion policies are concentrated. The conflicts over the industrial heritage of Poblenou show the preference preservation policies give to the residential areas of the bourgeoisie while at the expense of working-class areas, where the wealth to build the modernist buildings was created, fall into oblivion.