Two recent books by journalist and historian Marc Andreu, published by Els Llibres de L’Avenç, offer a realistic view of the reality of Catalan cities in the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century.
The first of these books is Barris, veïns i democràcia. El moviment ciutadà i la reconstrucció de Barcelona (1968-1986). This book, written from thesis work done by the author, offers a detailed analysis of the “citizens’ movement forged in neighbourhoods during the dictatorship”, which was in turn “a prominent component of the struggle against Franco that made possible the transition to democracy and the defence of the interests of the lower classes during the process of political and institutional change.”
The other book, Les ciutats invisibles. Viatge a la Catalunya metropolitana, is a collection of articles published by the author in the magazine L’Avenç between the autumns of 2014 and 2015. It borrows its title in part from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Like the great Khan, who knew little about his cities, Marc Andreu’s book is about Catalans who are unaware of the reality of their cities because “many districts and metropolitan areas in today’s Catalonia are invisible cities inhabited by thousands and thousands of people” to whom “the mass media […] pay precious little attention” (Les ciutats…, p. 187).
Both books are about neighbourhoods, understood as the parts of the city that inhabitants directly experience as places of residence, access points for basic services and the cradle of everyday social life. As Jordi Évole wrote in the prologue to Les ciutats invisibles, “that was where I had my school, my makeshift football pitch […], my grandfather, my grandmother, my junkies, my neighbours, my square, my friends… That’s where it all was” (Les ciutats…, p. 12). (more)
full text on line: Genís Barnosell, “The political vindication of neighbourhoods”, Barcelona Metròpolis, n.100, june-july 2016
Books: Marc Andreu, Barris, veïns i democràcia. El moviment ciutadà i la reconstrucció de Barcelona (1968-1986), Barcelona, L’Avenç, 2015 i Les ciutats invisibles. Viatge a la Catalunya metropolitana, Barcelona, L’Avenç, 2016