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Barcelona's Vocation of ModernityRise and Decline of an Urban Image$
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Joan Ramon Resina

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804758321

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804758321.001.0001

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Like Moths to a Lamp

Like Moths to a Lamp

Foreigners in Barcelona's Red-Light District

(p.93) Chapter Three Like Moths to a Lamp
Barcelona's Vocation of Modernity
Stanford University Press

During the latter part of the twentieth century, Barcelona became known worldwide because of its modernista architecture, particularly in the so-called Quadrat d'or (golden square). Early twentieth century outsiders looking in on Barcelona often wondered what objects in public places meant without considering the architecture with which the city's bourgeoisie sought to emulate the splendors of Paris. They were aroused by a completely different square kilometer of urban tissue: Barrio Chino, a portside mesh of narrow streets lined with dilapidated houses. This chapter explores how Barcelona, or more precisely its Fifth District, turned into a zone of encounters between the local gaze and the foreign gaze. It discusses the ways that the barrio emerged as a metonymy for Barcelona from which it was morally estranged. In particular, it considers how, under the foreign gaze, the Barrio Chino, and Barcelona in general, became extraterritorial in the second and third decades of the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Barcelona, architecture, foreign gaze, Barrio Chino, Fifth District, Quadrat d'or

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