introduction
City/Art: Setting the Scene
Rebecca E. Biron
La ciudad entonces tiene y vive el color del símbolo. Y el símbolo de cada ciudad no se
produce solo, sino en estrecha convivencia y por tejido hecho por los ciudadanos que
la habitan, la recorren y la representan. La ciudad de ese modo es creación estética
permanente. Y también tejido simbólico.
—Armando Silva, Imaginarios urbanos, Bogotá y São Paulo
Rio de Janeiro. Miami. Buenos Aires. Mexico City. São Paulo. Santiago de
Chile. Caracas. Lima. Havana. Bogotá. Montevideo. Brasília. La Paz. Tijuana.
These cities are nodal points in Latin America’s cultural tapestry. They pro-
vide that tapestry with strength and structure, but they also pose knotty
problems for those who wish to identify and appreciate all the threads they
bring together. Students of today’s Latin American urban scene face the
challenge of untangling the historical, economic, and political threads that
combine to produce these cities. At the same time, they must avoid reducing
each lived, creative city to any one of those threads; such limitation would
render the cultural tapestry illegible. The cities one can live in, visit, or ana-
lyze emerge as the material results of violence and social conflict, ideologi-
cal agendas, economic practices, architectural vision, and survival strate-
gies. Some of these elements are formal, legally sanctioned, and organized;
they have names. Others are informal, illegal, or spontaneous; they may be
anonymous or collective. All of these creative forces intertwine with one an-
other to produce cities that are inextricably tied to place and time even as
they also participate in a global network of meanings.
This collection provides students and scholars of urban cultural studies
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