Mapping controversial memories in the historic urban landscape

A multidisciplinary study of Beijing, Mexico City and Rome (2015-2017)

The research aims to produce a comparative, multidisciplinary study on the impact of UNESCO’s Recommendation on the historic urban landscape (RHUL – 2011),  which seeks to integrate conservation and development in urban policies. The research addresses three questions in Beijing, Mexico City and Rome: Which memorial references are mobilized by local actors in their historical urban landscape?  To what extent does the perception of collective memory overlap with the existing local implementation of heritage conservation policies? Which potential approach for the recognition of plural memories within the RHUL best underpins attachment to urban territories? This project strives to contribute to a better understanding of so-called collective memory dynamics and controversies that are emerging in these historic cities. Research must encompass popular understanding of uses of heritage, official norms and regulations as well as controversies produced by the mismatch of practice and discourse at different levels of analysis: local, national, and international.

Source of financing: SNIS

Research team: Florence Graezer Bideau,  Yves Pedrazzini (Lasur, EPFL), Jean-Christophe Loubier and Rafael Matos-Wasem (HES-SO Sierre), Lucia Bordone, Lesslie Herrera, Martha de Alba, Haiming Yan and Viola Mordenti

Partners: Politecnico di Torino, Tsinghua University, Roma 3, Roma 2
Recent publications:
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence and Haiming Yan. (2021). “Re-creating Memories of Gulou: Three Temporalities and Emotions”, in Rebecca Madgin and James Lesh (eds). People-Centered Methodologies for Heritage Conservation: Exploring Emotional Attachment to Historic Urban Places, pp. 129-142. London, Routledge.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. (2020). “The Social Life of Heritage-Making: Cultural Representations and Frictions”, in Carol Ludwig, Linda Walton and Yi-Wen Wang (eds.). The Heritage Turn in China. The Reinvention, Dissemination and Consumption of Heritage, pp. 39-67. Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence and Yan Haiming. (2018). “Historic Urban Landscape in Beijing: The Gulou Project and Its Contested Memories”, in Christina Maags and Marina Svensson (eds.). Chinese Heritage in the Making: Experiences, Negotiations and Contestations, pp. 93 –117. Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. (2018). “Mapping the Places of Collective Memories: A Rapid Transformation Landscape in Beijing”, in Italo Pardo and Giuliana Prato (eds). The Handbook on Urban Anthropology, pp. 259-278. London, Palgrave Macmillan.
Recent activities:
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. “Frictions et appropriations d’un espace patrimonial : l’axe central de Pékin”. Séminaire Dynamiques contemporaines en Asie: patrimoine architectural et urbain dans les villes en Asie, GIS-Asie, 23 juin 2023, Campus Condorcet, Paris, France.
  • “Explorer la micropolitique de transformation à Pékin : le patrimoine culturel vu à travers le prisme de la mémoire collective d’un quartier historique”, Assises de l’Anthropologie des Mondes Chinois, 16-18 mai 2021, Inalco, Paris.
  • “Anthropologically Beijing”, Conference Research methods in Landscape and Urban Studies, LUS PhD seminar SS20, December 3, 2020, ETHZ.
  • “Historic urban landscape as an opportunity for change? Evidence from Beijing”, Colloque international Globalized Heritage in Asia: regional articulations, silences, contestations, May 24, 2019. Université de Genève, Suisse.
  • “Entangled Memories in the Bell and Drum Towers in Beijing”, ACC Lecture Architecture: conjectures and refutations. March 14, 2019. Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino, Italy.
  • « La patrimonialisation : perspectives chinoises » Table-ronde Chine, construire l’héritage. Lyon, 13-5 Septembre 2018. Archipel Centre de Culture Urbaine en collaboration avec la Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, l’École nationale supérieure d’architecture et du patrimoine de Saint-Etienne, l’École urbaine de Lyon, Archipel Centre de Culture Urbaine, Lyon, France.
  • “Re-creating Memories of Gulou: Three Temporalities and Emotions”, with Haiming Yan, Association of Critical Heritage Studies 4th Biennal Conference, Heritage Across Borders, September 1-6, 2018, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, RPC.
  • Joint collaboration project Memory and the City PoliTO-EPFL Workshop on Mexico-City and Ostiense at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma (1-3 December 2016)

PhD thesis :

  • Lucia Bordone. “La mémoire collective et l’espace : Traces, récits et expériences autour d’un paysage urbain romain”, Co-directed by Florence Graezer Bideau (Institute for Area and Global Studies, EPFL) and Filippo De Pieri (PoliTO), EPFL Thesis n° 10263, defended on October 9, 2020.