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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Making Madrid Modern: Globalization and Inequality in a European Capital

  • Author(s): Gonick, Sophie
  • et al.

This paper will examine urban development and regeneration in Madrid during the first two decades of post-dictatorship democracy. Drawing on the work of Saskia Sassen, it argues that the “worlding” of this once provincial capital city produced an unequal landscape that failed to substantively alter the urban experience. Urban planning remade the city as a site for global, networked commerce, privileging an urban spectacle that occluded and masked some of the unequal dimensions of late 20th century Spain. Yet these state-led projects produced a particular image of the modern city without addressing deeper questions of urban poverty and exclusion. Film and literature from the era reveal that, while a new Madrid has developed, it remains only a façade that does not touch upon the enduring dynamics of inequality.

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