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Free Content Liberty at the merry-go-round: Leisure, politics and municipal authority on the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, 1760–1939

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The article offers an overview of the leisure activities on the Prado Promenade in Madrid (Spain) in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that a historical inquiry into the regulation of urban leisure is relevant for understanding the debates that the Occupy movements of 2011–12 opened up: (1) the meaning of mass public gatherings with the purpose of spending free time; and (2) the balance of power between the state, the city and commerce intertwined in the current definition of publicness. The City Council’s decisions about the methods and the scope of its control over leisure spaces such as the Prado reveal the ambiguous nature of municipal authority as a representative of the people as well as a mediator between the state and the vendors.

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Keywords: City Council; Madrid 1800–1930; Occupy movement; Paseo del Prado (the Prado Promenade); fairgrounds; leisure; public space; publicness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Marquette University

Publication date: 01 March 2014

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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