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Panel 53. The conflictive urban and spatial dimensions of memory


  • Infante, Valentina, Ph.D., Postdoctoral researcher COES & VioDemos (Chile)
  • Badilla, Manuela, Ph.D., Assistant professor at the Psychology Department, Pontificia, Universidad Católica de Chile & Adjunct researcher COES,
  • Olivari, Alicia, Ph.D., Postdoctoral researcher VioDemos (Chile) and Pontificia Universidad, Católica de Chile,


This panel has emerged through a direct collaboration between two research centers in Chile: COES (Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies) and VioDemos (Millennium Institute on Violence and Democracy Research). It explores the intricate relationship between cultural memory, cities, and space. It operates on the fundamental idea that a society’s cultural memory, expressed through various forms such as memorials, street names, public spaces, and social movements, profoundly shapes societies’ and cities’ transformations. Concurrently, the development of cities significantly influences the creation of cultural memory.

The focus on cultural memory gained prominence in the 1980s when scholars, mainly from Germany and the United States, observed a shift in Western society’s attention from the future, as it was in the early 20th century, to a greater focus on the past (Huyssen, 2000, 2003). Over the last 30 years, this research trend, known as “memory studies,” has significantly contributed to scholarship on collective memory, historical trauma, monuments, virtual memory, and social movements. Recently, there has been growing interest in exploring the connection between cities, space, and memory (Adams & Larkham, 2022; Aguilera, 2018; Badilla, 2020; Capdepón et al., 2020; Jordan, 2006). This perspective posits that memory is inherently intertwined with the comprehension and construction of a city. As time progresses and cities evolve, we embed traces in the urban landscape that narrate our past, present, and future. These traces reflect political struggles over the definition of spaces, the significance of symbolic and concrete landmarks, and the impact of real estate expansion that often erases the memory of neighborhoods while intensifying social conflicts. Moreover, they shed light on socio-spatial segregation, which correlates with memory dynamics, and force us to consider which events and persons are memorialized while others fade into oblivion (Aguilera, 2015). Consequently, the symbolic dimension of cities is a critical aspect that urban planners and sociologists must address to comprehensively grasp contemporary cities’ languages and challenges. However, a considerable portion of the cultural memory theory and its connection to cities originates in the Global North, often leading to an uncritical transfer of these concepts to the Global South. This panel encourages contributors to contemplate contextually relevant concepts and capable of fostering international and interregional discussions.

The panel contends that cities possess a cultural memory dimension that merits in-depth analysis and exploration. In this analysis, several questions arise, further delving into the link between memory and cities: What memory dynamics unfold in cities? What concepts help in characterizing memory as an urban phenomenon? What role does memory play in cities’ solidarities and conflicts? What are the implications when cities forget? How has cultural memory affected cities’ development/growth/decline in the years, both in the Global North and South?

This panel welcomes contributions related to the following topics (though is not limited to them):

  • Processes of toponymy and street name changing in urban memory politics
  • Memory activists and the link between urban social movements and cultural memory
  • The role of territory and spatial configurations in cultural memory
  • The urban dimension of monuments, memory sites, and “urban fallism” (Frank & Ristic, 2020)
  • The impact of neoliberalism and urbanization on cultural memory
  • Contested urban spaces and the politics of memory
  • Urban regeneration, tourism, city-branding, and cultural memory
  • Urban socio-economic segregation and cultural memory
  • Memory landscapes and cityscapes
  • Urban memories and counter-memories

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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Torre 26, Oficina 1504
Santiago – RM

Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM