1. Extended community laboratory

This is the project’s foundation, the place where community based processes expand, articulating collective research activities and storytelling community encounters, besides other community creations sustained by each partner (archive development, collective and personal narratives, radio shows, etc.).
The main aim of the laboratory is to articulate a “community of memory”, understood as a group of people that, more than sharing a past in common, produce representations and narratives in the present around a specific set of facts from the past. Thus, a community of memory may not necessarily share a common background and identity, but it shares the activity of producing a collective memory itself.
The laboratory is also a proposal to challenge the need of proficiency when talking about constructing historiographic narratives and producing knowledge: it brings together people with experiential, embodied knowledge and people with other specific skills and domains of expertise to use collective memory and history as a “contact zone”.
At the same time, the laboratory is an exercise in radical democracy since we propose not only to participate as testimony but also to manage means of representation and cultural appreciation, namely material and institutional tools and also cultural heritage. It’s a space for autonomy that is encouraged to go beyond the duration of the project.


Laboratory spaces in Portugal have been activated with the aim to explore the traces of the journeys from the village to the city (and sometimes back), as well as to experiment with collective and horizontal mechanisms that might allow this fragile fabric of interwoven individual and collective memories to be shared.
Three parallel approaches to the research have been put into place in order to explore the relationship between the places of origin and destination and between individual and collective memories within migration processes:
There have been a succession of meetings with the former neighbours of Castro Daire who migrated to Lisbon and during this process a series of in-depth interviews have been held.
These individual encounters have been combined with collective memory sessions both in the village and in the city, during which several questions have emerged: who were the first to leave? How did the ties of mutual aid work? How were the ties with places of origin maintained? Where were the relevant locations for the reconstruction of collective identities after being displaced?
Somehow inevitably, the archival impulse has appeared with both the individual and collective memory sessions, during which we have attempted a collective critical analysis of what archiving might mean for collective and subalternized memories. In this regard, along with the digitisation of documents, choices were made concerning which documents are to be shared publicly and those which should remain within the community. Such choices are made bearing in mind the balance between collective and personal privacy, sharing those documents that may stimulate a better understanding of the context whilst respecting the intimate nature of much of the archival material.


 Addressing the processes that build collective memories of the informal city from Cluj and PataRat challenges the usual timeline that goes from the past to the present. As PataRat is currently the heart of the informal city, different approaches have been put into practice in order to build individual and collective agency among the neighbours of PataRat to own the narrative of the memories of the informal city.

In this regard, community laboratories in Cluj and PataRat have operated as open and safe contexts from which different techniques can be shared in order to trigger alternative narratives of life in the informal city. Three collectives have been at the centre of these laboratories: children, teenagers and women.

As communities are crossed by heteropatriarchal and adult-centric perspectives, histories tend to be told from a masculine and adult perspective, using conventional methods. Exploring the potential of research and creative methodologies such as walking, rhyming and movement has provided a path to write individual and collective memories of the present in PataRat.

One of the hypotheses that has guided the open community laboratories in Cluj and PataRat is that broadening the scope of what a landscape might mean can help to reflect on the continuities and discontinuities between the landscape of the formal and the informal city.

Storytelling is the pillar around which communities compose their collective memories. Sharing different methods and storytelling tools with youngsters and women paves the wayo articulate kaleidoscopic narratives of life in the informal city that incorporate the cosmovisions of Rroma communities, defusing the risk of hegemonic narratives (liberal, masculine, individualistic, etc.).


 The community of former residents of the barracas in Hospitalet has been active for many years now, and its bonds of trust revolve around the History Workshop. It’s an informal meeting point and place for participation and collective organisation open to former neighbours, as well as to all those interested in the collective restitution of the memory of the places they inhabited.

The work processes that have been put in place during the past years have to do with the question of how to share a community of memories, how to render it readable in the present day while protecting and fostering the social bonds and knowledges that have kept it together thus far. How to represent the memories of the informal city in Hospitalet as a place for collectivenunciation and understanding of the present.

These interrogations are closely linked with the archive. From the History Workshop we have worked to build answers to a recurring question: how to organise an archive that responds to the characteristics of the informal city, how to think of an archive from the barraca? As a result of this process, we have created an online archive and, most importantly, a set of governance principles that focus on community care as a way of archiving and symbolic production.

As a consequence of the History Workshop, we have come to recognize and explore the relevance of celebration as a space of knowledge, as a time and place where ways of doing can be shared. This performative device, where memories are activated in the present, recomposes even the most unconscious knowledges that have survived the displacement from the informal city to the peripheral housing compounds.