Mapping Controversial Memories in the Historic Urban Landscape: A Multidisciplinary Study of Beijing, Mexico City and Rome

How is the plurality of urban cultural heritage perceived and how is it taken into account in the urban development in Beijing, Mexico and Rome?

Project Summary

Over the past decade, heritage management has become key to sustainable urban development. An increasing proportion of the world’s population lives in cities, yet few policies ensure strategic balance between urban development and conservation. Opportunities for innovative reuse of urban space also arise, however, leading to re-invention of its cultural meaning. In response, new approaches to heritage protection have emerged aimed at better integration with broader urban management policies. At the international level, this reflection culminated in the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (RHUL). The RHUL is a normative and general instrument, open to interpretation, that depends upon the cultural context of its implementation. Little research exists on its feasibility, interpretation and effects.

This research project assesses the potential and limits of the emerging approach of ‘historic urban landscape’ (HUL) by analysing the socio-spatial effects of its implementation at the local level in Beijing, Mexico City and Rome. Specifically, it questions how fully this approach recognizes the plurality of memories – from official to subaltern – that underpin attachment to urban territories.

Combining methods from urban sociology, cultural anthropology and visual modeling, the research will map collective perceptions of space in order to identify different types of memorial territories in the three cities and the emerging controversies within and between them.

Focusing on the RHUL implementation at the local level, the project will contribute to the understanding of its specific cultural interpretations. The research will furthermore develop an innovative method enabling a comprehensive mapping of a city’s cultural and human resources and foster stakeholders’ participation.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Memory and historic urban landscapes An interdisciplinary research in Mexico-City, Rome and Beijing

The aim of our research is to study policies regarding sustainable heritage governance in cities that have undergone substantial transformation in recent decades and scrutinize their implementation at the local level. In order to contribute to a critical reflection on the HUL concept and the implementation of its recommendation, we selected three capital cities from different geographical areas—Beijing, Mexico-City and Rome—all well known for their historical resonance and the richness of their World Heritage sites . These three case studies represent areas with different historic status and geographical distance (as central or peripheral) from a UNESCO labeled heritage item. The first is a UNESCO branded historical center situated in Mexico City, the second a residential area composed by alleys and hutong near the World Heritage Forbidden City in Beijing, and the third a post- industrial neighborhood in the periphery of Rome.

Report

The Case of Beijing Gulou Area

Report

Collective Memories and Social Representations of Mexico City Historic Center

Report

Changing urban landscape and plural memories: The Ostiense neighbourhood: the factory of Rome

This working paper presents the results of a two-years research conducted in Rome within the context of the project “Mapping controversial memories in the historical urban landscape: a multidisciplinary study of Beijing, Mexico City and Rome”. The project has been funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and carried out under the umbrella of the College of Humanities, Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL), Switzerland.

Executive Summary

Research Team

Florence Graezer Bideau
Coordinator
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Jean-Christophe Loubier
Co-Coordinator
Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale

Rafael Matos-Wasern
Co-Coordinator
Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale

Yves Pedrazzini
Co-Coordinator
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Lucia Bordone
Principal Member
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Lesslie Astrid Herrera Quiroz
Principal Member
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Michele Bonino
Associated Member
Politecnico di Torino

Claudia Conforti
Associated Member
Università degli studi di Roma Tor Vergata

Martha de Alba
Associated Member
Universidad Autònoma Metropolitana

Filippo de Pieri
Associated Member
Politecnico di Torino

Daniel Herniaux
Associated Member
Universidad Autonòma de Querétaro

Zhang Li
Associated Member
Tsinghua University

Viola Mordenti
Associated Member
ETICity (Exploring Territories Imagining the City) – Rome

Francesca Romana Stabile
Associated Member
Università degli studi Roma Tre

Alejandro Suarez Pareyon
Associated Member
Universidad Nacional Autònoma de México

Haiming Yan
Associated Member
Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage – Beijing

Status

completed

Disciplines

Themes

Regions

Countries

China, Italy, Mexico

Host Institution

Coordinator

Year