Madrid's Retiro Park as publicly-private space and the spatial problems of spatial theory

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20 Scopus citations


The scholarly focus on the production of space necessitates a thorough reassessment of the static categories employed in the analysis of spatial processes. Emphasizing space as a process, this essay calls attention to the recent implication of Madrid's Retiro Park in larger processes of capital accumulation. At the same time, it highlights the insufficiency of the tempting yet problematic distinction between public and private space that obtains in easy solutions to the struggles over city-space. As many critics have pointed out, there is design flaw in the idea of public space - it can never explain how a given space, such as a park, comes to be free of the 'private' (personal and structural) interests operating throughout its societal context. The story of the Retiro ultimately foregrounds the pivotal role of city-space in the drive for capitalist intercity-competition and suggests that the latter process is insufficiently confronted by idealized notions of the role truly 'public' spaces might play in radical democracy and citizenship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-700
Number of pages28
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Madrid
  • Private
  • Production
  • Public
  • Retiro
  • Space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies


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