Issue 17.2, May 2002

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Essay Excerpt

"In his short story "El Aleph," the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges narrates that there is, in Buenos Aires, a basement from where one can "observe all the places in the world, viewing them from every angle" (1971:166). The Aleph is, indeed, hidden in Buenos Aires—a city where imagining the world means per- ceiving it with the apparent immediacy of one's everyday experience. Buenos Aires is a seductive city and it is difficult to resist its cosmopolitan charm. If you walk through the imposing avenidas (avenues), if you linger in the elegant plazas designed a century ago by French architects, or if you sit in an outdoor cafe as you observe the crowds of fashion-conscious passersby, you will be tempted to concede this city's "European" reputation. The sight of the corpo- rate skyline, the shopping malls, and the profusion of North American fast- food restaurants might well persuade you that you never left the United States. Yet beware: The transnationalism that pervades the cityscape of Buenos Aires is not politically innocent."

"Spectcles of Modernity: Transnational Imagination and Local Hegemonies in Neoliberal Buenos Aires" by Benjamin Chesluk