Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In Barcelona, architects reanimate the plant matter used in traditional Catalan vernacular architecture with new designs and techniques; across town, archivists maintain the artifacts of the city’s social movements as resources for action in the present. How can these vibrant popular traditions be returned to the realm of the communal and political if accessing them requires the help of expert custodians? Is it possible for the expert disciplines that extracted knowledge from communities of practice to return this knowledge to them? This paper will examine how practitioners enlist their expertise to reposition formerly collective knowledge—currently treated as a residue in need of preservation—as viable practices for coproducing the future. In particular, it will explore how experts train non-experts to combine established areas of expertise and their own embodied knowledge of Barcelona’s landscapes as they shift techniques and artifacts to the domain of vernacular practices. The paper argues that in their joint experiments to return vernacular expertise to everyday life, experts and non-experts encounter these practices as novel ways of doing horizontal politics.