Guest-edited special issue: Madrid and Urban Cultural Studies

1364971XThe guest-edited issue on the topic of “Madrid and urban cultural studies” has been published in the International Journal of Iberian Studies (26.1-2 [2013]: pp. 3-102). Click here for link to publisher’s page.

Editorial and four articles include:

Editorial: Madrid and urban cultural studies (Benjamin Fraser): This Editorial opens the special issue of the International Journal of Iberian Studies titled ‘Reading Madrid: Perspectives from Urban Cultural Studies’ by suggesting mobility as a trope that is just as relevant to close textual readings and to a wider understanding of Madrid’s cultural production as it is to questions of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, more broadly considered. Appropriately, given the objective at hand, the impetus for this move is sparked by a textual analysis – of Madrid’s presentation throughout the opening sequence from director Pedro Lazaga’s 1965 film La ciudad no es para mí.

From cigarreras to indignados: Spectacles of scale in the CSA La Tabacalera of Lavapiés, Madrid (Matthew I. Feinberg): In Lavapiés, Madrid, the Centro Social Autogestionado La Tabacalera (The Tobacco Factory Self-Managed Social Centre) recalls the prevalence of the cigarrera in the popular theatre of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries while continuing the neighbourhood’s contemporary tradition as one of the epicentres in Madrid for grass-roots activist politics. While these connections activate cultural circuits of meaning that simultaneously evoke local and national imaginaries, they have made La Tabacalera a site where the intersection of the scales of the local, the urban and even the national has been a key component of the convergence of culture and space that urban theorist Henri Lefebvre would call lived space. Through a close reading of a series of cultural events held at La Tabacalera in 2010 and an analysis of the discourses of scale found in the ‘Dossier de Renovación del Convenio’ (‘Renewal Agreement Dossier’) from 2011, the present article will demonstrate how cultural production at the scale of the urban has been employed as a means of resisting spatial and cultural commodification at a range of other scales.

The garden at night: Revisiting Madrid’s public landscapes in Valle-Inclán’s Luces de Bohemia and Baroja’s Noches del Buen Retiro (Daniel Frost): If nineteenth-century notions of order and decorum reached something of an apotheosis in realist representations of Madrid’s gardens, works such as Valle-Inclán’s Luces de Bohemia (1924) and Pío Baroja’s Las noches del Buen Retiro (1934) present gardens as an image of twentieth-century urban society’s excesses and limits. Valle-Inclán’s nocturnal garden with prostitutes and shattered glass suggests the bleakness of protagonist Max Estrella’s social orbit, while Pío Baroja’s vision of Madrid’s Jardines del Buen Retiro pleasure garden conceals hostility and alienation under the guise of nostalgia and social refinement. Both gardens symbolize the ‘degeneration’ of what Jo Labanyi has described as the object of the modernizing state: to define the private self through the assumption of publicly defined roles.

Juggling aesthetics and surveillance in paradise: Ecuadorians in Madrid’s Retiro Park (Araceli Masterson-Algar): The literature on parks and recreation has traditionally employed definitions of parks as products, rather than processes tied to economic, political and social dynamics that comfortably exceed park boundaries. As a cultural process, mental and physical, local and global, Madrid’s emblematic park of El Retiro is at the intersection of personal choices/desires and constructions of race, class, gender and nation, always articulated through dynamics of power. This article examines the significance of Ecuadorian immigrant gatherings in El Retiro between 2000 and 2003, focusing on the entwinement between the municipality’s decisions over the park’s form and use, and larger patterns of injustice occurring at a variety of scales, as the city (re-)positions itself vis-à-vis current methods of capital accumulation. An analysis of El Retiro’s recently constructed Bosque del Recuerdo, a memorial to the victims of the bomb attacks in Madrid’s trains on 11 March 2004, reveals the ties between the expulsion of Ecuadorians from El Retiro and the pseudo-sacralization of Ecuadorian casualties following the bombings. Through an in-depth analysis of the space for this ‘memorial’, as form and content, this article unearths the mutual constituencies of El Retiro as lived and imagined, local and global, and central in the histories of Madrid’s Ecuadorian residents.

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