Colonial constituted space as a realm of memory (LSA 2022)

El Zócalo, Mexico City. Photo: unknown.

My paper for the LSA 2022 conference in Lisbon is part of the larger ‘Seats of Power’ project that investigates the spatial dimensions of the political and legal institutions that are typically established in constitutions, a configuration that I have elsewhere called ‘constituted space’. The paper is aligned with the LSA 2022 general theme ‘Rage, Reckoning, & Remedy’ in the sense that it focuses on colonial constituted space. I use the notion of ‘realms of memory’, coined by French historian Pierre Nora, to show how the coloniser’s public architecture and town planning imposed on the former colonies serve as powerful symbolic transplants that perpetuate colonial rule even after decolonisation has been nominally completed with independence. By doing so, colonial realms of memory continue to support inequalities and discriminatory practices that colonialism itself introduced. The paper draws link’s between a critical reading of Nora’s notion of commemorative sites and how Latin American cultural theorists like Néstor García Canclini and Armando Silva discuss the ‘imagined’ quality of urban identities. I use Mexico City as an illustrative example. You can find a pdf version of my full paper ➜ here. I welcome all criticisms and suggestions.

Leave a Reply