Memory and Materiality: Multisensory Ethnography of Culturally Diverse Urban Settings

Elisa Fiore | Radboud University Nijmegen | Memory and Materiality: Multisensory Ethnography of Culturally Diverse Urban Settings | Supervisors: Anneke Smelik, Liedeke Plate

My PhD research develops a multisensory ethnography of gentrifying multicultural urban settings to investigate how gentrification contributes to the inclusion or exclusion of certain cultural expressions in those areas. The two selected neighbourhoods where I will be working are Amsterdam’s Indische Buurt and Rome’s Tor Pignattara, two multicultural urban areas that recently gained the reputation of “failed” neighbourhoods in need of physical, commercial and demographic restructuration.

The theoretical framework is located at the intersection of sensory studies and feminist new materialism, and inaugurates a new interdisciplinary field that privileges multisensory experience as a means to capture the nuances of social formations. Methodologically, my research proposes a mixed-method approach consisting of walking ethnography, participant observation, and unstructured mobile interviews. The theoretical-methodological approach allows for the simultaneous exploration of micro- and macro dimensions of identity and appreciates the ways in which historical processes contribute to existing social formations, with particular attention to race and class inflections.

My research encourages the development of inclusive regenerated urban environments that retain the diversity of the sensorium and acknowledge the contribution of minorities in the restructuring of the urban space.