Shifting modern identities in Madrid's recent urban planning, architecture and narrative

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Compared to some major urban centers in Spain that have successfully participated in the fierce competition over cultural capital since the 1980s (such as Barcelona, Seville, or Bilbao), Madrid seems not so much to look outward to the international community to sell its image but to more reflectively construct and critique life, on the periphery of what was previously the center of an extremely centralized state. The power to build and shape Madrid during the 1980s and 1990s often found inspiration in the more disposable and ephemeral forms of culture circulating in its immediate environment, just as cultural forms and cultural content drew directly from the desire to represent human reactions to this urban setting. The conservative Partido Popular has taken credit for the positive urban reforms of the Socialists and criticized them for the failures, while giving Madrid over to the car and abandoning the progressive social housing policies of earlier years, which were based on rational Modernist planning and the political possibility of the Modernist project. Much recent literature and film about Madrid focuses on the resulting ideological, political and economic shifts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-402
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Architecture
  • Film
  • Literature
  • Modernity
  • Urban planning


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