Symbolic Landscapes of Identity: Monumentality, Modernity and Memory on Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma

Open Access
Dixon, Seth
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 25, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Deryck William Holdsworth, Dissertation Advisor
  • Deryck William Holdsworth, Committee Chair
  • Roger Michael Downs, Committee Member
  • Melissa Wright, Committee Member
  • Matthew Bennett Restall, Committee Member
  • memory
  • statues
  • monuments
  • Mexico City
  • cultural representation
Mexico City’s landscapes carry powerful discourses that memorialize the nation and national heroes, especially in monuments on major roads. With 87 statues within five kilometers, Paseo de la Reforma has been used by political regimes for over a century and a half as the premier place to evoke and interpret strong memories of conquest, revolution, independence and shared national heritage. A textual analysis of period sources shows how and why perceptions of the statues representing interconnected identities have changed over time. Iconographic analysis shows how the Paseo de la Reforma landscape and thus, Mexican identities have been constructed, contested and reinterpreted through the symbolic usage of public spaces. Mexicans have ascribed their own political, cultural and social meanings to these places, landscapes and monuments. Various populations and interest groups demonstrate the power to create meanings beyond the intended message of the government to fit their particular visions of space and society across multiple axes of identity. Localized identities are fluidly reconstructed and reinterpreted as urban landscapes of identity exhibit spatial, temporal and discursive dynamism.