Archiving the informal city: the Paris Zone in perspective

Thursday, June 20, 2019, 10h00-18h30
Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris Belleville, Amphi Central
60, Boulevard de La Villette, 75019 Paris

This session of the Scientific Seminar « Inventer le Grand Paris » will be organized around two round tables. It will be preceded by a conference by Maria Castrillo Romon from the University of Valladolid, as part of the ongoing work on the crossroads of metropolises.

As part of the Archival City research project, led by Vincent Lemire (Upem, ACP), Greater Paris is a privileged observation area for the links between history and archives on the one hand and between the uses of history and urban planning on the other. If the very idea of a guide or portal to archival and documentary sources of the history of Greater Paris seems utopian, archives and documentation centres have long been well identified and frequented by researchers. Nevertheless, the links between the collections referenced by archivists and the corpuses used by researchers do not always coincide. Many studies use cross roads or oblique paths to approach the major objects of the history of Greater Paris: development plans, major regional facilities, major housing or urban planning programmes, etc. Moreover, the institutions that produce the classic archival materials of the history of Greater Paris (Préfecture de la Seine, District de la région parisienne, Secrétariat général des villes nouvelles, établissements publics d’aménagement des grandes opérations, etc.) are generally only known in broad terms and not in detail about the functioning of their research, programming and management services.

The Paris Zone is one of these great historical objects for at least three reasons. First, the history that led from the « Fortifs to the Périph » (Cohen-Lortie, 1991) is a long-term history (1840-1970) whose echo still resonates strongly on the functioning and future of the Greater Paris Metropolis. Secondly, the Zone has given rise to research that crosses very different disciplinary methods, from the history of architecture to social history, or history of public policies. Thirdly, the illegality of the Zone, which has been tolerated and then legalized, has given rise to a large number of archives, whose location, production logic and uses deserve to be examined.

The idea of the workshop « Archiving the Informal City: The Paris Zone in Perspective » is therefore to bring together several researchers who have worked on the Paris Zone in different disciplines, temporalities or perspectives of investigation and therefore constituting sometimes divergent research corpuses, problems and methods of analysis. The first step will be to discuss the archives kept by archivists and mobilized by researchers, the constitution of research corpuses, but also the constitution of the Zone’s archives and their administrative, political and social use. The workshop will also be open to national and international comparisons on comparable topics (informal housing, management of informal peripheries, unhealthy housing, etc.).

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