Massive night-time traffic towards “movida” neighbourhoods and districts, street parties, itinerant open-air markets and other expressions of energy that make a city appear lively and dynamic are a part of urban culture. Ever since everyday life has ceased being grounded in industrial work rhythms and been “emancipated” by consumerism, living in cities has grown more appealing. But this is not true for everyone. That which makes a neighbourhood fashionable (that is, celebrated in the media, a glamorous tourist destination) is often the product of “artificial” re-development and renewal projects involving property speculation, appropriation of working-class areas, and expulsion of prior residents in favour of more privileged classes (the so-called “gentry”). The social fabric is thus torn asunder, in order to make room for an array of vintage dress retailers, artisanal breweries, Sicilian pastry shops and transnational flagship stores: an eclectic landscape, devoid of memory.
Giovanni Semi teaches Sociology of Urban Cultures and General Sociology at the University of Turin.