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  • Gender in Spanish Urban Spaces: Literary and Visual Narratives of the New Millenium ed. by Maria D. DiFrancesco and Debra J. Ochoa
  • William J. Nichols
DiFrancesco, Maria D., and Debra J. Ochoa, editors. Gender in Spanish Urban Spaces: Literary and Visual Narratives of the New Millenium. Palgrave MacMillan, 2017. 402 pp. ISBN 978-3-319-47324-6.

In Gender in Spanish Urban Spaces: Literary and Visual Narratives of the New Millenium, Maria DiFrancesco and Debra Ochoa offer a unique and engaging volume that breaks new ground by examining the intersection of gender and geography in contemporary Spanish cultural production. Moreover, the essays collected here bridge other disciplines as well by integrating mobility studies, LGBTQ studies, [End Page 142] ecocriticism, film and media studies, in addition to literary studies in very nuanced analyses of the semantics and politics of place for men and women, both heterosexual and homosexual. The theoretical through line that unites these various critical approaches derives from Lefebvre’s canonical 1974 text The Production of Space, as well as Doreen Massey’s Space, Place, and Gender (1994), Daphne Spain’s Gendered Spaces (1992) and Elizabeth Wilson’s The Sphinx in the City (1991). By placing these critics in dialogue, the authors signal the blind spots in Lefebvre’s notions about urban space and point to the patriarchal biases of urban theorists like David Harvey and Edward Soja. At the same time, however, the contributions to this volume offer very nuanced considerations about differential spaces, the negotiation of geography and individual identity, and the mapping of social identities such as race, ethnicity, social class, religious affiliation, and other categories in contemporary Spain, especially within a post-nationalist, neoliberal framework.

DiFrancesco and Ochoa, moreover, do very well to situate this book within the current landscape of scholarly approaches toward masculinity and femininity, sexual orientation, and multiculturalism in contemporary Iberian Studies that explore and question the hegemonic representation of identity as it intersects with what it means to be Spanish. In the introduction, DiFrancesco and Ochoa frame the questions this book poses within the context of the grassroots, urban mobilization movement of the 15-M and the shift in power dynamics exemplified by the “horizontal politics” of Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena, mayors of Barcelona and Madrid, respectively. At the heart of this volume, then, is a deep interrogation of the “cartography of power” (10) and a questioning of the practices of space that allows certain individuals and social sectors the right to the city, while those same rights are denied to others. Consequently, this book poses poignant questions about definitions of citizenship and the ability to conceptualize a “re-territorialization of space” (14) that ultimately redefines not only how we read gender in Spanish urban spaces, but also how we read the administration of space more broadly in cities in Spain.

Within this theoretical and political context, the book is divided into four sections that transcend genre or geographic setting: “Masculinities and Gender Dynamics in Urban Space”; “Immigration and Female Subjectivity in Urban Peripheries”; “Interior and Exterior Spaces of Gender in Madrid and Barcelona” and “Gender and Migration in Urban Spaces.” In the first section, the essays offer a dialectic through studies of gender dynamics in both urban and rural spaces in various visual narratives that offer critiques of traditionally accepted patriarchal normativity. In the second section, the essays examine the double, peripheral status of individuals due to gender and immigrant identities that happens within the cultural and historical importance of highly codified places in Spain, specifically neighborhoods in Madrid and Barcelona. The third section interrogates the division between public and private spaces and examines how those spaces are conceived (in a Lefebvrian sense) in very defined ways to correspond to male or female gender. Lastly, the fourth section studies themes of mobility and gender in contemporary film, literature, and television by looking at the ways in which urban spaces have traditionally been understood, constructed, and defined from the point of view of male consciousness; yet, it [End Page 143] also explores the protagonists’ ability, or lack thereof, to visualize a new city where they might escape their marginalization.

Gender in Spanish Urban Spaces achieves its stated goal...


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pp. 142-144
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