El centro del Centro: Ficción e ilusión en el Zócalo de la Ciudad de México
Delgado Velazquez, Humberto
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AbstractThis study analyzes artistic and cultural productions that have contributed to the construction of Mexican national identity through references to the central national space with the official name of the Plaza of the Constitution and popularly known as the Zócalo. The analysis of these works allows for the understanding of several fundamental bases in regards to Mexican identity discourse which has used this public plaza as one of the components to consolidate an idea of nation. This observation of cultural artifacts which have been produced since the 14th century also help to understand the hegemonic groups that have controlled the territory and the diverse social collective that have traditionally used this central plaza for protest and citizen performance. The Zócalo has also been a leitmotiv used to explain some aspects of Mexican essence in the works of intellectuals such as Alfonso Reyes, Salvador Novo, Agustín Yáñez, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Carlos Monsiváis, and Emilio Fernández, among many others.
The sheer quantity of works and constant references to the central Mexican plaza makes it pertinent to ask the reason for its permanence within the Mexican identity discourse: who are those who have configured its image as the central space as the most symbolic capital of the country, and why. Reflecting about this plaza also helps us understand some of the behavior of diverse social sectors that have a daily impact in the Mexican public sphere. Because of the characteristics of the Zócalo and the imaginary networks woven and distributed around this plaza, this investigation approaches the theme from the theories of social imaginaries formulated by such authors such as Cornelius Castoriadis, Néstor García Canclini, Roger Bartra, Charles Taylor, Manuel Delgado and Pierre Bourdieu. Using this philosophical framework, this investigation seeks to explain the imaginary construction of this central space as a passage point of mediation, a site of arrival and departure of symbols that affect all hegemonic groups equally—intellectuals, artists and the diverse social collectives that occupy it on a daily basis. With this approach, three chapters have been elaborated that treat three distinct perspectives regarding the Zócalo. The first chapter encompasses the statist perspective from the spheres of power to consolidate the project of Nation-State following the Mexican Revolution.The second forms part of the citizen-centered illusion that reconfigures the plaza as a reaction to the crisis of the political system that controlled it during the 20th century. Finally, the image of the Zócalo is analyzed from the dystopian intellectual vision at the end of the century that calls into question the two previous perspectives.
This analysis permits us to fund some constant characteristics with which diverse literary and artistic works construct the Zócalo and turn it into a normative image. The first and fundamental trait, its impulse proclaimed as a central space that provides cohesion to which are added other characteristics like sacredness, monumentality, patrimony, being a space of history, the agora of the polis or center of the national map. Through all these traits, the creation of a pre-reflexive framework foments its use of the image of the Zócalo and reinforces its symbolic capital, which, in spite of being questioned by many authors, does not cease to be the most mystified space of Mexican culture. A reflection on all this permits the creation of an intellectual and emotional distance in regards to a space that continues to be characterized in a dogmatic fashion.
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