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Unsettling the role of culture as panacea: The politics of culture-led urban regeneration in Buenos Aires

Dinardi, C. (2015). Unsettling the role of culture as panacea: The politics of culture-led urban regeneration in Buenos Aires. City, Culture and Society, 6(2), pp. 9-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ccs.2015.03.003


In recent years the rise of culture as a universal cure to a myriad of urban, social and economic ‘diseases’ has been celebrated without precedent, both in policy and academic accounts. Unlike these celebratory discourses, this paper provides a critique of the politics underpinning culture-led urban regeneration in order to unsettle the role of culture as panacea. Drawing on a case study – the on-going redevelopment of the post office palace into a commemorative cultural centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina – the analysis offers an in-depth account of the policy process by which industrial heritage is redeveloped through a cultural rhetoric. The analysis reveals how the recycling of the post office building enabled multiple meanings of culture to emerge and circulate within a range of policy, architectural, urban regeneration, real estate and media discourses. These, in turn, express existing disputes over the making of cultural policies, the uses of heritage, the image of the capital city and the value of the post office. In the redevelopment of the postal building, the paper argues, policy invocations of culture were aimed at de-politicising cultural activities in post-2001/2002 crisis Argentina, when politics had become a synonym of corruption and mismanagement. The paper concludes by drawing attention to the urgent need to adopt a critical perspective to the study of culture-led urban regeneration in Latin America, one which situates the analysis in historical and political terms and acknowledges the contending circumstances out of which these urban strategies often emerge.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Culture-led urban regeneration; Cultural policies; Buenos Aires; Public architecture; Post office; Heritage
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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