THE "FAMILIAR CITY" PROJECT
ABOUT THE PROJECT
This project – entitled “Inhabiting urban places and experiencing citizenship” – is a joint Franco-Romanian effort between lecturers/researchers and students of the social sciences, culture and urban-planning professionals, and residents concerned about their living spaces.Anthropologists, sociologists, lecturers/researchers and students of information and communication sciences, social work, architects and urban planners, museum staff, residents who are “experts” of their day-to-day lives, what drives us together is the production of active knowledge of the city, and raising awareness about the problems of cities.
An active knowledge of the city requires an attentive approach, informed by experience of urban spaces, which necessarily implies the possibility of social critique and a relationship of citizenship with the city. Our aim is to compare and contrast the approaches to urban practices of neighbourhoods and cities in France and Romania, in order to gain a better understanding of experiences of urban change here and there.
We propose a reading of the transformations of cities through the day-to-day experiences of those who inhabit and circulate within them. We lay particular emphasis on the familiarities that individuals forge with the city, i.e. permanent adjustments, routines, attachments whereby individuals give continuity to their living practices, even when they go through situations of disruption or dislocation (demolitions, relocations, site redevelopments, invasion by road traffic, etc.). But cities can also seem very unfamiliar to their inhabitants and those who circulate within them, and in these cases, we look at this feeling.
Finally, living our daily lives continuously in the city can mean that sometimes it seems so familiar that we no longer notice the changes taking place to our living spaces and no longer react to what is happening.
This project is an invitation to reclaim our cities and neighbourhoods, by making our day-to-day journeys and paying attention to our living spaces and what is familiar (and unfamiliar) to us.
The materials presented on this site are the product of field inquiries and do not reflect a final result, a proposed reading closed to other interpretations or produced by a remote “expert” researcher, isolated in their ivory tower. They do not aspire to produce universally applicable generalisations. They describe life situations and concrete issues faced by citizens. These materials are therefore provisional in nature and are intended to attract attention, with a view to widening the circle of vigilant citizens concerned about what happens to their city. In other words, to quote Peirce, this project and these materials are designed to enlarge the “community of explorers” of the city.
Lastly, this experiment is also, for researchers, an illustration of the possible avenues to be explored by “public science”, which is closest to the issues of city users and participates in defining and resolving them, alongside users themselves.