First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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Anabela Carvalho

Street billboards and the discursive construction of urban identity

Anabela Carvalho
Departamento de Cências da Comunicação, Universidade do Minh

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     Last modified: February 15, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/11/2007 2:30 PM in ISCTE-II B201
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The purpose of this paper is to ‘read’ the Portuguese city of Braga using some critical tools from the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (especially 1985). I argue that ‘development’ and ‘green growth’ are two important ‘nodal points’ that have fixed the meaning of the social at different historical moments. While environmental concerns were excluded from the ‘development’ project, ‘green’ has, in the last few years, become the focus point of new political and business articulations that sustain their hegemonic positions.
‘Nature’ and the ‘environment’ have recurred in a variety of discursive contexts to sustain the city council’s project for the city. As these signifiers became increasingly eroded, they turned into ‘empty signifiers’ allowing for all sorts of discursive uses in constructing and reinforcing the hegemonic position of local powers. ‘Green’ has been arbitrarily employed by developers to fix the meaning of space and continues to be a key symbol in a profit strategy that paradoxically destroys what it attempts to market. This paper will pay particular attention to political propaganda and advertising in street billboards as articulatory practices that contribute to a particular perception of space and a particular identity of subjects.

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