Memory of an Industrial Space. Matter, Traces, Imaginaries (Estarreja, Portugal) (MERLIN)

Memory of an Industrial Space. Matter, Traces, Imaginaries (Estarreja, Portugal) (MERLIN)

The MERLIN project is an interdisciplinary, transnational research program with a societal objective, aiming to understand ways of living and perceiving zones at risk of contamination, based on the traces of industry left behind in the countryside and the observations and comments of residents who live there. It therefore focuses on the memory of places and milieus, whilst offering a sensitive social reading of the way the environment is perceived. There are two components to MERLIN. The first, in close connection with the University of Aveiro (Portugal), is a case study conducted in the field, on the nearby town of Estarreja, which has been the site of a chemical complex since the 1950s. Using workshops conducted in secondary school classes and the collection of “significant elements of their environment” by the adolescents, their parents, and their grandparents, the goal is to create an intergenerational site involving emotional maps of Estarreja. The method aims to grasp the ways in which people represent environments and identify the sites in which their memories and narrative drives are inscribed. The second component, to be conducted at the University of Paris Nanterre and in collaboration with the University of Chicago Centre in Paris is based on a research seminar aimed at our respective doctoral students, exploring ways of living in contaminated zones, in which other international examples will be presented. The methods used in Estarreja will serve as a starting point for reflection and the seminar will conclude with an international thematic conference bringing together all partners, as well as other guests.

Project managers

Fabienne WATEAU , CNRS - LESC UMR 7186

Elisabete FIGUEIREDO , Université d'Aveiro, Portugal

Internal cluster partners

  • Laboratoire d'Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative (LESC) - UMR 7186
  • Laboratoire Architecture, Ville, Urbanisme, Environnement (LAVUE) - UMR 7218
  • Archéologies et Sciences de l'Antiquité (ArScAn) - UMR 7041
  • Laboratoire d'Études Romanes (LER) - EA 4385

Associated partners

Université d'Aveiro, Portugal

University of Chicago Center, Paris

Museu Nacional de Etnologia, Lisbonne

Universidade Feevale, Brésil


35 months


complexe chimique, contamination, sciences participatives, mémoires affectives, imaginaires, risque