Urban preservation...

21st Jun 2017

Urban preservation and the queerying spaces of (un)remembering: Memorial landscapes of the Miami Beach art deco historic district

a new paper by Martin Zebracki is now available online.


Based on a case study on Miami Beach’s acclaimed iconic art deco architectural district, this article critically dovetails intersecting hegemonic spaces of preservation, memorial practices and social and sexual identities. It argues how commemorative narratives are selectively encrypted in the local urban environment and its artefacts deemed of historical significance. It especially reveals the tensions arising between art deco (i.e. architectural) preservation and gay (i.e. social) urban preservation, as well as its under-studied largely entrepreneurial nature and attraction for a mainstream, cosmopolitan class under neoliberalism. Drawing from extensive archival, policy, observational, participatory and interview data over 2013–2015, the article revisits in historical perspective how the art deco area, incarnated in the 1920s, developed across class-, ethnicity-, religion- and age-inflected social fragmentations and how this legacy, from the late-1970s onward, segued into the local gay-led preservation movement and select commemorations of the art deco scene. To this background, the study employs the tenet of ‘queerying’ to address the under-researched coalescing frictions in preservation between perceived authentic and engineered trajectories of (gay) place (re)makings alongside reminiscences selected over others. The findings uncover and challenge (un)intentional ‘(un)rememberings’ of the local early history and the recent past, where socially fragmented fault lines and the more recent gay-led preservation track remain overly homogeneously imprinted in dominant preservation communications and performance.

You can read the full article here

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