Port city lives: debating conceptual and methodological tools to grasp contemporary urban change

In November, I presented the first paper based on my post-doc research, tightly linked to the Lxnights collective research project. Since I’m still at the very beginning of my work, I chose to present my initial ideas and ask for comments, suggestions and critiques.  The feed back was great! Thanks to all the colleagues that were at the session.

So, to continue collecting useful comments, I decided to post the abstract I sent to the ESA RN 37 Midterm Conference in Lisbon. Please feel free to ask questions and send suggestions.

Port city lives: debating conceptual and methodological tools to grasp contemporary urban change

Based on a research project taking its first steps, this presentation has two main objectives: reflecting on how the concept of gentrification can be useful to understand contemporary urban change in the Cais do Sodré area in Lisbon and generating a debate around action-research strategies to reconstitute shared memories of the urban landscape in gentrified areas.

Located on the waterfront, near the port, its offices, warehouses, bars and cheap hotels made Cais do Sodré an area of transition and transit and a nightlife zone characterized by prostitution. Following a period of decline, the nightlife was recently transformed: several venues recuperated the ‘cabaret’ theme and attract younger and wealthier patrons. Many buildings were rehabilitated for residential and tourism purposes and several sections of the waterfront were or will be regenerated. Cais do Sodré also remains an interface linking the subway and bus lines with the train to Cascais and the ferryboat to Cacilhas.

The areas surrounding Cais do Sodré have different occupation patterns and social destinations. Distinctive urban sedimentation layers can be uncovered and varied dynamics of regeneration – associated to residential issues but also to tourism, leisure and cultural activities – are occurring at different paces. The effects of deindustrialization, consequent social recomposition and landscape transformation are discernible in the area. The consequences of the current economic crisis and of rent-law alterations that potentiate the displacement of low-income residents and business owners are also becoming visible.