Accepted Paper:

The mallification of a city: unraveling marginalities   


Carolin Loysa (Freie Universitaet Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

The worldwide emergence of shopping malls is an important and complex phenomenon. It needs to be investigated in relation to other central spaces of the city to demonstrate that the margin-center relation that urban studies still focus on needs to be rethought conceptually and theoretically.

Paper long abstract:

Urban margins as constitutive elements of urbanity have mostly been studied on a micro-scale level and from a subaltern perspective. Within this paper I intend to demonstrate that the idea of peripheries, hence the margin-center relation that urban studies still focus on, needs to be rethought conceptually and theoretically.

I argue that there is a complex relation between the different spatial margins in contemporary cities and that the way they are related to each other may present a new way to understand how cities and urban societies constitute and situate themselves in a global and local context. Focusing on the actors' perceptions and discourses I aspire to go beyond the question of what is the center, turning it into what are the centers, why and what for?

I mean to present a case of one of Mexico's most important cities where the emergence of malls has not only immensely changed the urban landscape, but has had an enormous impact on the urban society as a whole. To be able to understand the impact that malls can have in a Mexican context, it is important to consider the specific constitution of Mexican cites where the plaza mayor is the central public meeting point with a tradition going back to pre-colonial times. I will present empirical material collected in four emblematic spaces for urban conviviality (the plaza mayor, two malls and a so-called Towncenter) to unravel socio-spatial affiliations and negotiations that constitute the urban space.

Panel P090
Urban margins: new perspectives on the city