Katiana Le Mentec en mission à l’université de Catane

Katiana Le Mentec (CCJ-CECMC) sera en mission 17 jours en décembre 2019 au département de Sciences politiques et sociales de l’université de Catane (Italie).

Dans ce cadre elle participera à la reflexion sur l’élaboration d’un projet collectif transversal sur les contextes de bouleversements territoriaux, avec Mara Benadusi (professeure d’ethnologie). Ce travail incluera des tables rondes ainsi que des courtes explorations ethnographiques des  sites mémoriaux et touristiques de catastrophe, notamment ceux en lien avec les éruptions de l’Etna (un des volcans les plus actifs au monde, a été classé sur la liste du patrimoine mondial en 2013). Un parc touristique et thématique nommé Etnaland attire de nombreux visiteurs, de même que des villages conservés en l’état (Gibellina) .

Par ailleurs, Katiana Le Mentec donnera deux conférences à l’université de Catane.

Disruption of Anthropotopia.
Proposal for a renewed anthropological approach on territorial events and upheavals

There are many ways through which one could look at topics of research affiliated to the various phenomenon’s related to events affecting spaces and territories. In recent years, anthropologists explored them through the prism of disaster studies (floods, earthquake, landslides, typhoon, fire, industrial and chemical pollution such as oil spill…) and climate change (desertification, glacier melting, …). A wide array of other processes have been however studied on these issues since the beginning of the discipline such as the human-induced land transformations and ressources exploitation such as urbanization, infrastructure construction, mining operation, river damming, diverting and irrigation projects, intense agriculture. We can include as well studies on spaces affected by conflicts, wars and terrorist attacks. While such processes have been treated separately, both in term of methodology and analysis angle, we could seize them as cases with comparable basis to study anthropological processes in play in disruptive events affecting a territory ; when there is a transformation (partial, temporary, or definitive), if not a loss, of spaces inhabited, used, designed or/and perceived by people, who interact with them beyond their tangibility. I propose to call such places : anthropotopia. This term can be used as a conceptual tool to identify physical spaces that are “considered of interest”, “invested” in tangible and intangible dimensions by people. Arising suddenly, progressively, anticipated or planned ; perceived positively, negatively or ambivalently ; and caused directly or indirectly by human activities or natural phenomenons, territorial events carry a great heuristic potential to explore relations people forged with their anthropotopias. Such events and their follow-ups are crossed by a series of commensurable processes that might be studied in a transversal fashion to examine more deeply situations of anthropotopia’s disruption.

The conference first discusses the notion of anthropotopia and presents the anthropological approach to affected territories allowed by this perspective : the field of research proposed as well as envisioned adequate methodologies. Exemples will be drawn from academic literature and two ethnographical field-researches I carried in China Old Sichuan Area (Bashu): a) since 2004 in Yunyang, a county affected by a tremendous rise of water (50meters between 2003 and 2009) upstream of the Three Gorges Dam, b) since 2015 in Beichuan, a county deeply impacted by the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. In the second part, we’ll explore more deeply the visual spaces and topography transformation relying on the case of the Three gorges Area, seen as a disrupted anthropotopia for various social and political group of actors.

Yunyang old city dismantlement and new Yangzi River Landscape (K. Le Mentec, july 2006)

L’intervention aura lieu le 10 Décembre 2019 de 12h à 14h
Lieu : Palazzo Reburdone, Sala riunioni, I piano, University of Catane (Italy)

Glory and woe of cultural measures for defusing and re-enchanting forced migration.
The case of Yunyang County upstream of the Three Gorges Dam (China)

The Three Gorges Dam induced the world biggest forced migration related to a water reservoir. More than a million people were officially included in the plan while analysts counted 2 million affected by the rise of water that occurred in the middle course of the Yangzi River in three steps between 2003 and 2009. Field research undertaken since 2004 in Yunyang County allows to examine, over the course of 15 years of back and fourth ethnography, how the local government took in charge “culturally” this relocation process. Measures of communication/propaganda and cultural policies were developed under the successive terms and strong support of one local leader : Xiao Min (1956- ). In charge of Yunyang between 1997 and 2006, Xiao designed a series of conceptualisation and interpretation to frame ideologically and historically the Three Gorges forced relocation affecting one in six inhabitants in the County. To promote the concepts he conceived – “Yunyang Spirit of Migration” and “Yunyang Culture of Migration” – Xiao introduced a new festival, launched cultural heritage protection measures as well as stimulated exhibition and Museum projects. They were included in an attempt to seduce outsiders (investors, potential tourists) with a new local brand. More importantly, these initiatives not only tried to defuse popular interpretations of a negatively connoted forced migration but to re-enchant this process with positive values historically grounded. Xiao Min endeavor was acclaimed by many local civil servants and his hierarchy who promoted him at the regional bureau of Culture in 2006, where he regionalized his actions. However, over the course of a decade, his proposals and projects were slowly put aside in Yunyang County while they were never been seized by the local population who used a wide array of cultural tools to resist the official framing of the forced migration and criticize the local government’s action.

After introducing Yunyang Three Gorges Migration context and Xiao Min cultural policy measures, the presentation will propose some hypothesis on the factors leading to their moment of glory and their eventual failure

Yunyang Museum_Diorama of Three Gorges Dam Migrants’ departure from Yunyang (2011 K. Le Mentec)

L’intervention aura lieu le 16 Décembre 2019 de 10h30 à 12h30
Lieu : Aula Master TEMA, Biblioteca, Via Card.Dusmet 163, University of Catane (Italy)


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