Social Representations of Mexico City Historic Center: Heritage and Controversial Memories
In this paper, we present the results of a research project that deals with the controversial memories of historic urban landscapes that have been designated as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. We observe – through the study of social representations of Mexico City Historic Center – how the World Heritage label transforms the meanings and memories of such landscapes. In the first part of this paper, the concepts of social representations and collective memory, and the role of heritage in the marketing of cultural memories are discussed. The empirical research conducted in Mexico City Historic Center is presented in the latter part of the paper. The focus will be on the analysis of interviews applied by combining different techniques and analytic methods commonly used in social psychology and geography. Research results show that different layers of city memories coexist in the social representations of Mexico City Historic Center nowadays, and that the World Heritage site designation recognizes and gives value to old cultural memories that become products for touristic consumption. This makes collective memories of social actors’ struggle to survive when their neighborhood was being transformed into an open museum.