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Unsettling the culture panacea: the politics of cultural planning, national heritage and urban regeneration in Buenos Aires

Dinardi, Maria Cecilia (2012) Unsettling the culture panacea: the politics of cultural planning, national heritage and urban regeneration in Buenos Aires. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis is concerned with how a controversial heritage redevelopment project in downtown Buenos Aires enables social actors to produce and contest meanings of culture, the city and the nation. The research is an in-depth case study of the politics of a culture-led urban regeneration project converting the Palacio de Correos y Telecommunicaciones (the post office national headquarters)into a cultural quarter in the context of Argentina's bicentenary commemorations. Taking the building as the object of study, the investigation draws on interviews, archival research and analysis of discourses and images to shed light on the material institutional and historical configurations of cultural planning from a sociological cultural perspective. The aim is to explore the complex interplay between culture, memory and space through three analytical dimensions concerning the rise, fall and rebirth of the building. First, the thesis considers why culture provides a solution to the deterioration and disuse of the postal place. Second, the politics of memory of the cultural centre is examined through its engagement with the past, present and future of the building. Third, the type of urban space imagined for the renovated site is discussed in relation to similar projects in the city's central area. The multifaceted analysis shows how the post office headquarters becomes entangled in a network of public discourses, memory struggles, material interests and political confrontations, mediated by the language of culture. The thesis argues that policy-makers invoke culture as a claim to legitimacy that is meant to appeal to those reject political parties and politicians and that us aimed at wiping out the conflicting social histories of places. The variety of meanings assigned to culture reasserts the contention over the term and demands empirical analyses that, grounded in specific contexts, resist the prevalence of universal cultural regeneration recipes, challenging culture's function as panacea.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Maria Cecilia Dinardi
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Sociology

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