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The city as citizenship performance

Grant number: 09/16038-1
Support type:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: March 01, 2010 - August 31, 2010
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Urban Anthropology
Principal researcher:Ronaldo Romulo Machado de Almeida
Grantee:Ronaldo Romulo Machado de Almeida
Visiting researcher: Derek Pardue
Visiting researcher institution: Washington University in St. Louis, United States
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:98/14342-9 - Center for Metropolitan Studies, AP.CEPID

Abstract

For more than a century social researchers, political leaders, community activists as well as local residents have developed a range of ideologies and theories to explain the city. Recently, demographers published studies in affirmation that the majority of humans are now "urban". Cultural anthropologists occupy an interesting niche within this dynamic due to their fundamental principles of integrating fieldwork with social theory and cultural history. In short, anthropologists can contribute a particular perspective on the debates surrounding the meanings of cities. Researchers have produced more penetrating analyses when they have approached the city less as a series of relatively fixed connections between individual and family in terms of socio-economic class through labor and more as a complex relationship between a social structure of categories, such as class, race, gender, age, sexuality, region, and socio-lingusitic dialect, and a certain imagination and performance of identities. From such a perspective, the importance of popular culture emerges as a central site of investigation, not only in economic terms but also related to an intentional investment on the part of people. Such identity performance is rooted in the neighborhood; other instances involve translocal or transnational circuits. The dimensions of identity are reflected in the contemporary form and shape of cities. Discourses and pragmatic projects, nominally referred to as multiculturalism, bilinguial education, diaspora, globalization and "cultural points" (in the case of Brazil), are attempts to address the present paradigm of socialization. It is well documented that the current dynamic has elicited a reinterrogation of the concept of citizenship at both the local and national levels. It is also known that the citizenship debate has not only resulted in new laws and cultural campaigns, but also conflicts, which have at times become points of physical, symbolic and spatial violence. The central research question of this project is: how can we understand identity expressions in relation to current discourses and policies of citizenship? The city is the best site of investigation into such relationships. It is both the "stage" and the "drama" itself; it exists as the field and the struggle itself for recognition. The city represents the process of legitimation of being and the right to have a space in society. In short, the city, in its architectonic, political, legal forms and its social networks, is the most visible and empirical example of citizenship in action. (AU)

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