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Visualising Deindustrial Ruins in an Oral History Project: Sesto San Giovanni (Milan)

Roberta Garruccio

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My contribution focuses on a photo collection dedicated to Sesto San Giovanni, a medium-sized city north of Milan that became the fifth largest industrial district in Italy after WWII. Built around the beginning of the 20th century, its heavy industries were dismantled before that century drew to its close. Closely connected to a campaign of interviews conducted by historians and social anthropologists, the images under consideration aim to relate the photographic representation of former industrial spaces in Sesto as they are today to the oral testimonies and memories gathered between 2013 and 2015. The article elaborates on several points: it briefly sketches the reasons why Sesto San Giovanni is a relevant place to study structural change and deindustrialisation; defines the nature of the visual documentation we gathered during our oral history project; describes the context where this evidence has been conceived and collected; and attempts some suggestions to understand where the fascination that emanates from these images lies, and what contemporary viewers can perceive from them as part of a large deindustrial ruin imagery, something becoming a “global genre”.


Bibliographie: Garruccio, Roberta: Visualising Deindustrial Ruins in an Oral History Project: Sesto San Giovanni (Milan), BIOS – Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral History und Lebensverlaufsanalysen, 2-2018, S. 80-101.