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An 'imagined geography': ideology, urban space and protest in the creation of Barcelona's 'Chinatown', c.1835-1936.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>International Review of Social History
Issue number3
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)373-397
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Henri Lefebvre famously seized upon the duality of the modern city: how for some it is a space of play and liberation, and for others a centre for power and repression. This article explores this duality through an analysis of the changing historical geography of Barcelona's Raval district, an inner-city working-class community and the birthplace of Catalan industrialization. From the 1920s onwards, elite groups and social commentators defined the Raval as Barcelona's “Chinatown”, an imagined geography that continues to influence historical representations of the area. Through a social history of the Raval, it is argued that the “Chinatown” myth served specific political ends, that it formed part of a cultural project to impose a slum myth on Barcelona's most important and most rebellious working class district. The article concludes with an analysis of how this “moral geography” culminated in far-reaching plans for the moral and physical reordering of the Raval for the benefit of urban elites.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Review of Social History, 50 (3), pp 373-397 2005, © 2005 Cambridge University Press. This article was a development of a paper delivered at the 11th International Conference of Historical Geographers in Qu'bec, August 2001. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : History