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At the Shopping Mall Dom Pedro: socio-anthropology of an enclosed space

Grant number: 15/04514-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2016
Effective date (End): August 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Sociology of Knowledge
Principal Investigator:Leopoldo Garcia Pinto Waizbort
Grantee:Marc Pierre Olivier Berdet
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):16/23027-0 - From Villa Grimaldi (1997) to the Museum of Memory (2010): socio-anthropology of memory of political repression in Chile, BE.EP.PD


It has been 30 years since multinationals started building gigantic enclosed air-conditioned shopping centres, notably in Brazil (a dozen in 1980, more than 300 in 2002 and near 500 today). These malls (literally "public avenues where people go out to shop") are alleged to recreate, beyond their mercantile objectives, an inner city "public culture" that has been deserted since the 1980's: one can do daily shopping, meet up with friends, go to a café, to the cinema or the theatre - in short, it is a place where one may socialise and to cultivate his or her mind.But does this "introverted architecture", which is isolated from the outside, not accelerate the decline of the public life by submitting it to the necessity of commodity exchange? And does its "culture" not assert a global imaginary of consumption (an American one) against a local culture (the Brazilian one)? This project aims at answering these questions through the example of the Shopping Parque Dom Pedro (State of Sao Paulo, 2002). It follows my book (2013) dedicated to two centuries of commercial architecture (arcades, department stores, shopping centre) as applied to the Mall of America (Minnesota, 1992). It resumes Walter Benjamin's urban methodology I have presented in my PhD (2009) and in two books that followed (2013 and 2014), and pushes forward the approach shared by Anthropological Materialism, an international network of researchers that I have been leading since 2010. My aim is to cast new light on the "public culture" of the shopping mall and on the "material culture" of its globalised consumption with the help of an anthropology of globalisation inspired by Walter Benjamin. I will coin new empirical methods appropriated to this underrated subject in order to answer the urgent questions it raises to our times. (AU)

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