L[i/o]ving cities


During the thirty four years of my existence I have been living in six cities in two different countries. In all those cities I met people with whom, luckily, I am still in touch and who allowed me to build my own personality with their points of view and actions. All these natural comes and goes in a young adult life could be considered as a utopia for my parents and much more for my grandparents.

The possibility of this kind of life, so individual and so far away from that static groups of people who influenced us during our whole life, is not casual. Fortunately, nowadays we have facebook, twitter, linkedin, skype, mobile phones, e-mail, low-cost transport and all the tools that are to come and that, for the first time in history, allow us to connect our relations in real time and not to lose them in our memory.

This entire new real world that is emerging in the last years, as François Ascher explains in his book “Les Nouveaux Compromis urbains”, is pushing us to rethink about the nature of what local means. Nowadays, we have several transport technologies that have blurred distances between goods and people and, we also have, the information technologies that allow us to share knowledge around the world. Therefore, in my point of view, the meaning of local, which historically was focused in territorial aspects, has to go forward to be focused in the relational aspects.

It is a fact that the territorial aspect was, is and is going to be a key factor on the generation of links and relations between people, but, nowadays, that is not the only place for relations. An example of this is that people swap things and have personal or professional relations with other people who have never seen. Therefore, this new way for relations has to have its consequences in territorial organizations and in the possibility of letting people participate in local policies.

At this point come up new possibilities that have to be studied, developed and could be incorporated in our democracies to improve their own acceptance. As examples I can add, in the first place, the possibility of a territorial weighting of votes depending on the implication of people with different territories (eg. for people who live in two cities simultaneously) or, in the second place, the possibility of participation on particular issues for people who have a relation with the place of the issue although it is not a residence place.

On the other hand, it seems that tools as the local census or as the vote in fixed districts according with the residence place are becoming a bit restricted in this global word of relations that we are creating. As one friend of mine said: “globalization beyond economy: citizenship and public spirit are key concepts”.

If somebody asks me, I will say that home is the place where people that value me are, but, just now, I do not know where they are.

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Comments on: "THE NEW MEANING OF LOCAL" (5)

  1. Dear Jose Mari, after carefully reading your theory on what today can be considered local, even though I can not be agree. However, it is abundantly found that we headed irrevocably toward full globalization of the planet, My question is are we really prepared for this globalization?. My answer is NO! and what I mean. Returning to the concept of “Local” that you point, if this, we expand exponentially, also diminish our importance in the environment in the same way. So if intellectually, socially and culturally we still a country of the minor leagues, what would become of us if we have to blur between the big guys?. My opinion is that as long as the “LOCAL”, the global will not end for us even smaller than they already are.

    • Hello James.

      Regarding what you say is think that behaviours are changing and we have to assume that it is a fact. The local is what surrounds each person and I think that it is better defined for our relationships than through the territory we live on.

      In this post I did not want to refer to questions of national identity or international lobbying. However, I will tell you my opinion; we are witness of a redefinition of global blocks and the European countries must integrate if they want to have influence between the new global players (mainly USA, China, India, Brazil, Russia, Japan) with populations much higher than those of each individual European country. However, that does not mean a loss of identity or that we have to maintain the traditional local levels os decision.

      Greetings and thanks for your opinion

  2. Natalia said:

    Hello José!
    Interesting your discussion. We definitily need to think on this multirelational approach about territorry.
    I can understand your argumentation. We Brazilians can do it as we are on the basis an imigrant country, with various roots and connections. In the past the imigrants could only express their “saudades” on emotional and sad songs to have a relationship with the coutries they left behind! My grandfather would never imagine what I can live today. I’ve lived in 10 cities of 5 different coutries, and I’m also happy to say I can be in touch with the valuable people I’ve met there. Life bacame much more dynamic. That’s a reason to re-thinking also the tools and policies that rules the relations with the territorry.

    • Thanks Natalia

      Really greatful for your opinion. The most incredible thing is that our grandchildren will think the same as you with your grandfather.

  3. Paula Sáenz Pascual said:

    Dear Jose,

    I found this book which I think might be of interest to you:

    http://www.agapea.com/libros/Itinerarios-transculturales-isbn-8474326478-i.htm

    In it, James Clifford makes a study of how geographical movements influence people´s cultural identity and creates new patterns that anthropology should study.

    The importance of the crash of spatial, social and even sexual frontiers upon the individual is an exciting new field of study.

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