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Professor Edgar Illas recently published Thinking Barcelona. Ideologies of a Global City. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2012.
Thinking Barcelona studies the ideological work that redefined Barcelona during the 1980s and adapted the city to a new economy of tourism, culture, and services. The 1992 Olympic Games offered to the municipal government a double opportunity to establish an internal consensus and launch Barcelona as a happy combination of European cosmopolitanism and Mediterranean rootedness. The staging of this municipal euphoric postpolitics, which entailed an extensive process of urban renewal, connects with the similarly exultant contexts of a reviving Catalan nation, post-transitional Spain, and post-Cold War globalization. The transformation of Barcelona, in turn, contributed to define the ideologies of globalization, as the 1992 Games were among the first global mega-events that celebrated the neoliberal end of history. Three types of materials are examined: political speeches and scripts of the Olympic ceremonies, with special focus on Xavier Rubert de Ventós' screenplay for the reception of the flame in Empuries; the urban renewal of Barcelona directed by architect Oriol Bohigas; and fictional narratives by Quim Monzó, Francisco Casavella, Eduardo Mendoza, and Sergi Pàmies. This juxtaposition of heterogeneous materials pursues some type of postdisciplinary decoding linked to a strictly Marxist premise: the premise that correlations between different superstructural elements shed light on the economic instance. In this study, Barcelona emerges as a singular conjuncture overdetermined by global capitalism, but is also a space to reflect on three main problematics of postmodern globalization: the spectralization of the social in a fully commodified world; the contradiction between cosmopolitanism and the state; and, the vanishing essence of the city.