Research

Research fields at IAGS address a series of themes related to contemporary Asian and Russian societies and their economies. They explore the socio-political, cultural, economic, and technological dimensions of their emergence at the global level.

Projects cover heritage and cultural policies, creative industries, innovation and technology. In its research activities IAGS also seeks to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas between different disciplines, both within and beyond social sciences.

IAGS research projects

Makerspaces: politics and communities of innovation in contemporary China (2016-2019)

The research project is built around an ethnography of three makerspaces in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen as well as their respective annual maker faires. These hybrid and dynamic communities exhibit unique technical, commercial and social characteristics. The « bottom-up » study of these spaces will allow to describe their functioning, movement and interaction with the Chinese State apparatus and innovation policies. Building on fieldwork the analysis will look at the creation of social relationships, work and business models as well as the degree of autonomy in these organizations. These autonomous urban spaces shed light on the role of potential citizen participation in the creative process. They also illustrate the Chinese State’s co-optation of new classes and the priority given to innovation and economic reform.

Source of financing: SNF

Current research team: Florence Graezer Bideau, Marc Laperrouza, Clément Renaud and Monique Bolli

Former team members: Syan Xu

Partners: MIT, Tsinghua University, University of Michigan

Activities: Workshop “How to study makerspaces?”, 18-19 May 2017, Renens, Switzerland

Memory and the city: assessing tools for interdisciplinary research and teaching (2016-2018)

The project aims to assess and experiment research tools for the study of the relationship between collective memory, urban space, and design in contemporary cities. It stems from previous empirical and collaborative experiences between PoliTo and EPFL in the study of urban collective memories. By scrutinizing the two cities of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds jointly inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2009, the project aims to respond to the widely felt need to elaborate innovative research paths concerning the methodology and the goals of research on urban memory. Memory studies have gained an increasing presence in the research and teaching activities of European technical schools, in parallel with the growing role played by tangible and intangible heritage in processes of urban/architecturaltransformation. The project explores the ways in which memory studies can represent a challenge and opportunity for ‘Polytechnic’ research and education, forging links between different fields of knowledge such as architectural design, urban history, sociology and anthropology, visual studies, mapping.

Source of financing: Compagnia San Paolo and Politecnico di Torino

Research Team: Filippo De Pieri, Florence Graezer Bideau, Alessandro Armando, Yves Pedrazzini, Nicola Braghieri, Davide Vero, Lucia Bordone and Lesslie Herrera

Partner: Politecnico di Torino

Recent activities:

  • Joint fieldwork and seminars in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, Lausanne and Turin

Book in preparation:

  • De Pieri Filippo et Florence Graezer Bideau, éds. (2018). Porter le Temps. Ville et mémoire dans un site UNESCO, Genève, MētisPresses.
  • De Pieri Filippo, Alessandro Armando and Florence Graezer Bideau, eds. (2018). Memory and the City: A Handbook in Action, Siracusa, LettereVentidue.

Mapping controversial memories in the historic urban landscape: a multidisciplinary study of Beijing, Mexico City and Rome (2015-2017)

The research aims to produce a comparative, multidisciplinary study on the impact of UNESCO’s Recommendation on the historic urban landscape (RHUL – 2011),  which seeks to integrate conservation and development in urban policies. The research addresses three questions in Beijing, Mexico City and Rome: Which memorial references are mobilized by local actors in their historical urban landscape?  To what extent does the perception of collective memory overlap with the existing local implementation of heritage conservation policies? Which potential approach for the recognition of plural memories within the RHUL best underpins attachment to urban territories? This project strives to contribute to a better understanding of so-called collective memory dynamics and controversies that are emerging in these historic cities. Research must encompass popular understanding of uses of heritage, official norms and regulations as well as controversies produced by the mismatch of practice and discourse at different levels of analysis: local, national, and international.

Source of financing: SNIS

Research team: Florence Graezer Bideau,  Yves Pedrazzini (Lasur, EPFL), Jean-Christophe Loubier et Rafael Matos-Wasem (HES-SO Sierre), Lucia Bordone, Lesslie Herrera, Martha de Alba, Haiming Yan et Viola Mordenti

Partners: Politecnico di Torino, Tsinghua University, Roma 3, Roma 2
Recent publications:
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence and Yan, Haiming. 2016 (in press). “Historic Urban Landscape in Beijing: The Gulou Project and Its Contested Memories”, in Svensson, Marina and Maags, Christina (eds.). Chinese Cultural Heritage in the Making: Experiences, Negotiations and Contestations, p. 80-101. Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. 2016 (in press). “Mapping the Places of Collective Memories: A Rapid Transformation Landscape in Beijing”, in Pardo, Italo and Prato, Giuliana (eds). Handbook on Urban Anthropology, Palgrave Macmillan
Recent activities:
  • Joint collaboration project Memory and the City PoliTO-EPFL
  • Workshop on Mexico-City and Ostiense at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma (1-3 December 2016)

Chinese New TOwns: negotiating citizenship and physical form – CeNTO (2015-2017)

The project looks at the construction of the “third-generation” of Chinese New Towns that will host another 300 million rural Chinese migrating to urban areas over the next 20 years. Conditioned by certain new key-words promoted by the Chinese government – such as “innovation”, “sustainability”, “inclusive growth” – this research investigates how, through the lens of architecture and urban design, physical form, can reveal experimental processes of the negotiation of both citizenship and social identity. It also explores how Chinese New Towns have appropriated urban models from different contexts.

Source of financing: Politecnico di Turino
Research team: Michele Bonino (PoliTO), Armando Alessandro, Mauro Berta, Filippo De Pieri, Francesca Governa, Angelo Sampieri, Francesca Frassoldati, Florence Graezer Bideau
Recent activities: regular seminar Architecture and Resistance

Urban planning and the heterogeneous city: A study of the technical, social and political controversies around the 2014-2034 Mumbai Development Plan, (2015-2017)

This project analyses the Mumbai Development Plan 2014-2034 (MDP 2034) revision and its temporary withdrawal due to an unprecedented public outcry and strong criticism by both, experts and civil society. This event is highly representative of the tensions and conflicts pervading the development and regulation of contemporary cities in South and North. The study of the public arenas and controversies induced by the making of the MDP 2034 is a unique opportunity to develop a refined understanding of the increasing heterogeneity of contemporary urban development and the challenges it raises to urban planning. Thus we undertake a study of the technical, social and political controversies, which have been evolving around the MDP 2034.

Source of financing: SEFRI-Flash

Research team: Luca Pattaroni (Lasur ENAC), Christine Lutringer, Salomé Houllier et Tobias Baitch (Lasur ENAC), Amita Bhide and Richa Bharadwaj (TISS)

Partners: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies

Recent activities: Workshop at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, on 23 November 2016

Innovative Research on Urban Dimension « Containers for housing and re-urbanization of slums, camps & other human settlements in post-disasters contexts: India, Lebanon and Indonesia » (2015-2016)

Source of financing: ENAC, Seed Money – Urban Incentive

Research team: Alain Nussbaumer (ICOM), Yves Pedrazzini (LASUR), Florence Graezer Bideau and Christine Lutringer (IAGS)

Recent report: “Rapport de recherche sur la dimension socio-culturelle: l’étude de cas réalisée à Gandhinagar, Inde” by Florence Graezer Bideau and Christine Lutringer (IAGS)

Recent activity: ENAC Week 2016

Containers for housing and re-urbanization of slums, camps & other human settlements in post-disasters contexts: India, Lebanon and Indonesia (2015-2016)

Source of financing: ENAC, Seed Money – Incentive for innovative urban research

Research team: Alain Nussbaumer (ICOM), Yves Pedrazzini (LASUR), Florence Graezer Bideau and Christine Lutringer (IAGS)

Recent report: “Rapport de recherche sur la dimension socio-culturelle: l’étude de cas réalisée à Gandhinagar, Inde” by Florence Graezer Bideau and Christine Lutringer (IAGS)

Recent activity: ENAC Week 2016