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From Planning to Design: The Culture of Flexible Accumulation in PostCambio Madrid MaUoIm AUn CompiteUo is Professor of Spanish and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. He has authored numerous books and essays on contemporary Spanish literature and culture . This essay is part of a book in progress on the reUtionship between capital culture and urban identity in Ute 20th century Madrid. My goal in this paper is to offer some com ments about the telationship between cul tural production and economic and political transformation at a particularly important juncture in Spain's recent past. I will use a major component of Spain's built environment, architecture and the urban planning that surrounds it,1 as an example to study this relationship since it represents a particularly significant narrative informed by this transformation . I do not intend to reduce architecture, or any cultural artifact, to a manifestation of language, as has so often been the case in assessments that attempt to gain access to culture from the peispective of postmodern critical theories.2 We must always keep in mind the role of Marx's silent hand of history in shaping the nature of the relationship between culture and socioeconomic forces. Only in this way can any of our approaches to culture be contributions to a truly context -based cultural studies anchored in the material reality out of which culture is cast. As a result ofthe general elections of 1982, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) assumed power with an absolute majority that allowed it to maintain control over the Spanish national political arena for more than a decade. The PSOE's 1982 electoral campaign slogan and platform of the EUcciones del Cambio captured the imagination of a Spanish electorate that desired to put an end to the Francoist era and the stalled centrist-led transition to democracy. The promise of new approaches to old problems struck Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies Volume 3, 1999 200 Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies a responsive chord in voters who were eager to see the political arena ratify changes that had occurred in Spain's major metropolitan regions several years earlier and which had been percolating in social and cultural fields for even longer.3 Particularly important in this political , economic, social and cultural renewal was the shift from using modernity as a frame of reference to examining Spain's new set of circumstances through the optics of what many Spanish and international commentators saw as an emerging postmodern practice. This is not a view that I share, as the body of diis essay makes evident. Nevertheless , there is no doubt that for some, postmodernism and postmodernity quickly became discursive shorthand expressions of a purportedly sophisticated Spain on the move, one that took its models from urban centers like Hamburg, London, Paris and New York. It is beyond the scope of this essay to delve into this issue. One need only check the number of translations of the works by major theorists ofthe postmodern including Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard and Gianni Vattimo that were issued during the period to ascertain the extent of the interest in this topic. A persusal of the numerous contributions to the debate over the postmodern which seeped into everything from comics books to religion gives a sense of the extensiveness of the growing discourse of postmodernity in Spain from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. A great part ofthe discussion on these issues centered on the urban. The postmodern and its most visible cultural manifestations were, of course, mostly located in and a product of Spain's cities. Precisely, what is missing from the debate and what is needed to accurately assess the postmodern, is a theoretical frame of reference that folds the nature of urban consciousness into a consideration of the condition of modernity and postmodernity. The work of David Harvey provides just such a frame. In The Urban Experience, (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity, (1990) Justice, Nature and the Geography of Différence (1996) and other essays Harvey builds on the work of other urban theorists, especially Henri Lefebvre, who assert that capitalism reproduces...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-9009
Print ISSN
1096-2492
Pages
pp. 199-219
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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