Spectacles of Modernity: Transnational Imagination and Local Hegemonies in Neoliberal Buenos Aires

Peer Reviewed


As the medium of everydayness from which one cannot withdraw, urban experience has a “natural” immediacy, or, as Henri Lefebvre put it, an opacity that is hard to resist. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in the late 1990s, in this paper I explore middle-class practice and discourse in, and around, some of Buenos Aires’ “globalized” sites. I argue that the reterritorialization of transnational modernity through the Buenos Aires cityscape naturalizes the authority of local political and economic elites, even as it sets the standards for what is “good” and “desirable” in the everyday life of this city’s publics.

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"Buenos Aires: Paris of the South"

Additional Works by the Author

"Respectable Ladies and Uncouth Men: The Performative Politics of Class and Gender in the Public Realm of an Italian City." Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 120, Issue 475 (2007) pp. 48-72.

“Fair Ladies: The Place of Middle-Class Women Antique Dealers in a Postindustrial Italian City,” Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 13 (2) (2006):105-122.

"The Denial of Citizenship: 'Barbaric' Buenos Aires and the Middle-Class Imaginary", in City and Society, 2004, 16(1): 69-97.

"She looks at him with the eyes of a camera: female visual pleasures and the polemic with fetishism in Sally Potter's Tango Lesson" in Third Text: Critical Perspectives in Contemporary Art and Culture, 2004, 18(5): 461 - 474

"A Color for the Modern Nation: The Discourse on Education, Class, and Race in the Porteño Opposition to Neoliberalism", in Journal of Latin American Anthropology, 2003, Vol. 8(1):148-171.

"A Stroll Through la Boca: The Politics and Poetics of Spatial Experience in a Buenos Aires Neighborhood," Space and Culture, 2003, 6(4):356-376.

"Ruining the President's Spectacle: Theatricality and Telepolitics in the Buenos Aires' Public Sphere," in Journal of Visual Culture, 2002, Vol.1(3):303-323.

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