A documentation internship by Tudor Pitulac : about La cité Radieuse in Marseille

As sociologist, postdoctoral research fellow of The Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch, and also as professor at the Petre Andrei University of Iasi, I have decided to take a documentation internship abroad, in August 2011.

My research subjects concentrating mainly on the sociology of communities, for the project developed within the Iasi Branch of the Romanian Academy, the theme is formulated as it follows: A communitarian perspective on the social life in the Romanian urban space. Mechanisms for the establishment and perpetuation of social dysfunctions.

The concept of land records seems to me very attractive. In the recent years I have been developing my work mainly based on quantitative date, so I thought appropriate to balance my approach, by reorienting my research on some qualitative data as well. Naturally this leads me towards the MMSH’s phonoteque where I got in touch with Mrs. Veronique Ginouves, a passionate professional of these special types of records.

The diversity and complexity of the data kept within the Sound Archives are very special. The researchers finds here more than 5000 hours of archives. This could be quite discouraging if someone has to find by themselves the files they are interested in. After I indicated to Mrs. Veronique Ginouves my interest area for this internship, she prepared for me a folder which matched excellently my research topics and therefore I thank her very much.

The folder contained documents regarding the ‘residential unit’ Cité Radieuse from Marseille, first of such 5 constructions, realized after the architect’s Le Corbusier plans and vision. He would propose o construction designed to offer the setting for a productive social life for its residents, a suitable background for the community spirit to flourish in a proper urban building. The records are very original as they are not developed in the framework of a reaserch program as usual but by a person interested in keeping the memory of this architectural project and of the first of its residents.

These documents comprised of a series of interviews taken by Serge Mercier (press photographer) with Suzane Lherisson, Honorary President of the Association of Residential Unit Residents in Cite Radieuse in Marseille. It must be specified that at every meeting, except one, there was a third person participating, she is being former President of the Association of Residential Unit Residents in Cite Radieuse in Marseille. Most of the times she acts as an interviewer, but sometimes she is the subject. It is important to mention that all three live in Cité Radieuse. The subject is one of the first residents (1952), the other woman came in 1999 (information inferred from the text), while the interviewer is a resident of Cité Radieuse since 2001.

The folder consists of 17 audio digital files, which account for a total of 25 hours and 15 seconds recorded during several weeks in the summer of 2009. The subject is an exceptional one for this matter. Practically, for decades Suzane Lherisson dedicated her time to the Association and to common life in Cite Radieuse. She kept every document or file referring to the building and to the Association, since she began living there in 1952. Hence, supported by a very good memory that does not betray her not even at a very old age, the subject offers the reader a consistent and comprising image of what meant living in Cite Radieuse.

For more technical, epistemological and methodological details, one can consult the notes and comments written in the document fiche corpus. In the same document I also suggested some other useful references on the same topic.

During this documentation period I fulfilled a double task. On one hand I made a primary analysis on the data from these files, so other researchers interested in this field could access them more easily. Thereby, I identified and indicated every relevant theme from each file and the time period in record to which they refer. Also, I completed a standard form for each file, which includes a brief summary of the information contained. On the other hand, I conducted a secondary analysis on the data from the perspective of my research topic mentioned above. I sought to answer the question regarding the degree to which materialized Corbusier’s vision for the emergence of significant communitarian spirit in this type of building but I shall not develop the subject here, as I will dedicate a special article for this topic next fall.

The folder offers the researchers the possibility to acknowledge extremely useful information on associative life in a particular residential complex. Breadth and depth of the presentation are quite rare in this research field. One encounters elements of life history for a period of over six decades, and with components that highlight the manner of initiation and development of a large housing association that far exceeds similar initiatives. These files offer the overview of a process developing in over five decades, with interesting stories and remarkable characters. One finds information about the ordinary life in the building complex, about the various activities celebrating the anniversaries, about the manner in which residents interact, about the development and preservation initiatives, about the influence of the spatial arrangements on relations between neighbors or family members, etc.

It is also an extremely convincing pleading for the importance of involvement in collective activities beyond the own living space, in order to avoid the atrophy of the collective space.

During this internship I enjoyed a great opportunity for my professional development and I want to thank again to Mrs. Veronique Ginouves for everything she does in this institution. Practically, her name becomes gradually synonym to the Sound Archives’ name, saying a lot about her enthusiasm and impeccable professionalism. Also, I shall thank Corine, a very attentive and dedicated office colleague.

Author : Tudor Pitulac (tudorpitulac[at]yahoo[dot]com)

Blog post in French : http://phonotheque.hypotheses.org/5443

Post în româna :http://phonotheque.hypotheses.org/5491

 

Photos : Tudor Pitulac at the Phonothèque, August 2011.

 


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