De la friche urbaine à la biodiversité : Ethnologie d’une reconquête : (La petite ceinture de Paris)

Abstract : The attention for biodiversity has drawn to cities: it is now necessary to take care of species and ecosystems even in the most artificialized environments. Yet, hosting a wild nature disturbs the order and cleanliness criteria ruling urban spaces, and changes the professional cultures of their designers and managers. By the end of 2011, Paris adopted a Biodiversity Plan. Based on ecological science knowledge, its aim is to reinforce the presence of flora and fauna in the capital and to change city-dwellers’ perceptions on wild nature in cities. This policy is confronted to the ethnography of a vast urban wasteland, which is a territorial issue for Parisian biodiversity: the petite ceinture. Built during the XIXth century around Paris, this railway line, unused on a large portion, has been colonized by fauna and flora. Although public access is not permitted, this area is nevertheless intensely frequented by many inhabitants. The study among informal users focused on their relations to the place and the nature within it. The lack of official function and the loosy surveillance allow a diverse, transgressive and inventive social life. If nature is not central in the relations to the wasteland, it is a component of the place’s identity. The free development of plants is recognized for its rarity in an ultra-controlled urban world, while their ecological interest is not much mentioned. At the same time, the petite ceinture is being institutionalized. On one side, a differentiated management is implemented since 2006 by a staff whose action participates in ordering the space. On the other side, Paris City Hall converts some spots of the linear into community and public gardens. The case study of a promenade in the XVth arrondissement reveals a true attention towards biodiversity. But the recapture of the railway goes together with new modalities of controlling life, and the normalization of the place and its social practice. Wild grass and informal practices emerge where control comes loose. If bad weeds have been rehabilitated, maybe it is possible to change our perspective on the social fertility of the wasteland.
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Julie Scapino. De la friche urbaine à la biodiversité : Ethnologie d’une reconquête : (La petite ceinture de Paris). Architecture, aménagement de l'espace. Museum national d'histoire naturelle - MNHN PARIS, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016MNHN0006⟩. ⟨tel-01449578⟩

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