Monday, March 04, 2024

Self-representation deficits...

I was recently reading a fascinating essay about Buenos Aires in the 1920s and 30s, at the time one of the most self-consciously modern urban spaces outside of Europe and North America. (And perhaps the only one of such that had no direct experience of the world wars. Additionally, even though the conditions for long term decline might have already begun to crop up, Argentina also had a very mild experience of the Great Depression.)

One might contrast Antigua, which has self-identified as 'old' in recent times.

Yet like all cities with a well-defined image for both the outside world and its own denizens, there ought to be more open and diverse debate here about the meanings and appropriate uses for the streets here, socially, politically, culturally — and the Alcalde ought to assert for himself a key role in marshaling these as well as articulating his own vision.

The obvious immediate danger, as we have seen, is a vacuum into which step those whose own project is largely limited to using Antigua as a lure for leeching off high-end transients. The outright cynicism one can detect here is likely to result in a gradual augmentation of the phoney-ness of the environment, with the city ultimately converted into little more than a boutique mall.


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