The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU PhD student successfully defends thesis on the politics of the making of the temporary urban

16 June 2022

Congratulations to Marisol Garcia González who has successfully defended her doctoral thesis titled 'The politics of the making of the temporary urban. Narratives of Santiago’s contemporary practices.'

gardening in Santiago, Chile

Marisol Garcia González argued that the presumed stability and predicted desirability of the contemporary city project in Santiago can be interpreted by exploring the contradictions and possibilities of temporary spatial practices. Her research considers these practices as experimental actions driven by a multiplicity of actors: citizens, civic organizations, and government bodies, conceived to last for some time and determined by a will to produce transformative changes in the city. The wide variety of practices reverberating across different geographies, spaces and scales are bringing fresh prominence to the contemporary debate on public space. However, the topic, widely explored in European and North American cities has been less studied in the Latin American context, and specifically, in Chile, where this research focuses.

She reflects critically on the ambiguous character of such temporal operations and their discourses: such practices could defy dominant forms of power in the production of space and could align, through their values and relations, to the structures of power by becoming complicit with forms of capital accumulation. Inquiring about how such practices challenge the making of contemporary public space, she assumes that these practices could challenge the production and meaning of ‘the public’ in the city. Therefore, she draws attention to how their making makes the ‘public’, by emphasising the differentiating character of these practices and their political dimension.

Her research is theoretically and methodologically positioned at the crossover between urban design and social science. For framing the theoretical and analytical limits of the research question, she proposes to use the locution ‘temporary urban’ which brings together the interrelated dimensions of time, use, and the public. Using an interpretive paradigm of qualitative research, she explores the controversial relationships between temporary spatial practices and the neoliberal urban project of the city of Santiago. Empirically, such examination is driven by an analysis that focuses on the meanings and values that different actors bring to the urban discourse and on the relationships established among them, exploring the contested and changeable power interplay among agents of city-making.