SIlvia Boca and Emanuela Margione from the Politecnico di Milano and Michele Tenzon from the Université libre de Bruxelles, participates to the Early Career Researcher meeting organised by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) at the Smolenice castle in Slovakia.

The meeting will take place from 23rd to 26th September 2018 and will see the partecipation of 60 young scholars from the HERA programme and under-represented European countries. The purpose of the event is to give the opportunity to network with each other, to share research insights, to reflect on work to date, and to engage in workshops designed to support researcher development.

The participant are invited to prepare conference posters illustrating their researches and that will be displayed in the venue throughout the event, forming the basis for intellectual and creative discussion around the theme ‘Uses of the Past’

Emanuela Margione, Constructing place and Community.

The complementary relationship between architectural and urban design in towns and villages of the Pontine Marshes.

As part of MODSCAPE project, this research intends to focus on the importance of architecture and public facilities within new rural settlements of one of the MODSCAPES Italian cases studies: the Agro Pontino. This geographic area was reclaimed by the Fascist party under the directions of two main actors: Arrigo Serpieri – an agronomist- and Natale Prampolini- an engineer. The reclamation, started in 1923, precedes the so-called “displacement from the city” and the “ruralization of the area” glorified by Mussolini during the “ascension speech” in 1927. As one of the most important territorial transformation carried out directly under public control, the Fascist redemption project of the land, is particularly significant due to the relationship between the closeness to Rome, the new Agro-towns, the villages which we can call Borghi and at least, the morphological structure of agricultural holdings.

Starting from the MODSCAPES research question, this work therefore will highlight the relationship between the existing landscape, the network of roads, drainage and irrigation canals – from the reclamation project and the plans for villages and town; the role of public buildings as a system of public facilities promoting new behaviors patterns. Furthermore, starting from the European objective of Hera – strictly connected to the human importance and the social impact of different phenomena- the research also aims to understand: the role of public buildings in the construction of a scenic space where was integrate both history and innovation; the role of architecture setting in motion new identity process; the physical impact on these public facilities after the IIWW with the drastic change of the political scenario.

Michele Tenzon, Rural Modernities: Colonial and Postcolonial Visions for the Gharb Valley, Morocco

The history of rural modernization in Morocco during the colonial and early post-colonial period is a sequence of brilliant successes and failures, of utopian projects and practical ideas. It is a history of progress and violence, of subjugation and resilience.

This research aims at documenting how the rural communities of the Gharb valley, in Morocco were affected by the projects of modernization of its rural landscape during the late colonial period as well as to their counter-reactions in the aftermath of Moroccan Independence.

Large-scale infrastructural projects and the massive purchase of rural land by French colonists in the region induced long- and short-range migrations, the disappearance of nomadic herding and rapid – although unequally distributed – surge of mechanised agriculture.

In the 1950s, the French colonial administration promoted a series of schemes to resettle large portions of the rural population of the region. These schemes aimed, on one hand, at safeguarding the indigenous tribes whose existence was jeopardized by land grabbing and colonial resource extraction. On the other hand, they served as physical and immaterial structures that assured the control over the Moroccan peasant population and the possibility of their exploitation as rural workforce.

In the decades that followed Moroccan independence, much of the land owned by colonists was expropriated and redistributed to rural cooperatives in which land was owned collectively and where members built their villages. The emergence of this new actor did not prevented the widening of the gap between the modern and the traditional sector as the most productive and better served landholdings remained in the hand of large international investors companies and the urban Moroccan elite.

The research rely on rich and often unexplored archival resources held in Morocco, France and Belgium. It also employs cartographic techniques that aims at understanding the physical and spatial relations between actors and between the communities and the infrastructural and resettlement projects. Historical maps are compared to recognise the changes occurred in the spatial arrangement of the region or the village. New maps are produced by geo-referencing visual or written archival material and by integrating historical evidences with the findings of original surveys or other secondary sources on the actual Gharb landscape.

We also claim the relevance of an hybrid approach that mixes tools and methods of architectural history as well as other derived from architectural design and landscape architecture. These methodologies involves the interrogation of the actual landscape – through photographic surveys, interviews and subjective descriptions – to complement historical data. The landscape itself become an archive to explore and that can reveal through its observation aspects of the legacies of rural modernization in contemporary rural Morocco.