Theses defended

Festivals as modulators of contemporary cities Dialogues between São Paulo and Lisbon

Paulo Cezar Nunes Junior

Public Defence date
July 19, 2019
Doctoral Programme
Cities and Urban Cultures
Claudino Ferreira
Cities have been increasingly transformed by cultural events and, more specifically, through festivals. Based on this premise, the research aims to investigate the ways in which these events have modulated their material and immaterial construction, generating processes of individuation and regulation according to forms of control associated with spaces of freedom, as suggested by Gilbert Simondon and Gilles Deleuze. Two emblematic urban festivals were chosen as cases studies: the Virada Cultural, promoted since 2005 in São Paulo (Brazil); and the Mexefest, held since 2011 in Lisbon (Portugal). The research will focus on cultural intermediaries and organizers directly involved in the production of these events, on the media market associated with them and on others institutional spheres connected to the cities under analysis. The study looks at micropolitical practices and urban environments generated by these festivals, understanding their relationship with the city as mediated by technological devices with different scales and measures of operation. Bruno Latour´s Actor Network and the methodological post-structuralism of John Law are important references for this analysis. Together with Sarah Pink´s sensory ethnography, these authors compose the methodology of ephemerality that is used in this investigation. The empirical research is based on qualitative methods and combines direct observation, interviews and documentary analysis. Built on the control of liminal space-time and insinuating a sense of freedom and personalized choices, urban festivals have operated according to the principles of modular power. Through this device, they subjectively and objectively measure the subjects who participate in them and attribute values to them. The experience around these events has been extended not only to other cultural manifestations - hence the festivalizing character assumed today by cultural practices in general - but also to the relation of subjects in other spheres of their lives. Its spectacular and ephemeral scenery creates and, at the same time, reproduces a type of experience of new urban ways of life. Based on these principles, the results of this research are discussed through dialogues between the Virada Cultural and Mexefest cases, and are organized around the following topics: (i) the relation between conflicts and imagination of security in the city; (ii) urban regeneration projects and gentrification processes; (iii) intermediation between communication, media and festival programmes; (iv) articulation between cultural communication and urban marketing; (v) relations between technology, music and urban experience; (vi) placemaking and aesthetization of urban space; (vii) cosmopolitism, tourism and city festivalization; and (viii) historical heritage and market imagery.

KEYWORDS: culture, city, festivals, social control, music.