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Title: Re-imagining public space : urban renewal, identity and discourses of consumption in Montpellier, France
Author: Tchoukaleyska, Roza
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the meaning of public space in Montpellier, France, with a focus on a city-centre plaza that has been redeveloped through a municipally-led regeneration program. Originally home to an outdoor produce and household goods market used by a wide diversity of urban actors, the redeveloped Plan Cabanes plaza has been re-imagined as a brocante and French book market. The process of changing the type of market situated in this plaza has resulted in a noticeable change in how public space is used in the surrounding neighbourhood. Through the relocation of the produce market it has witnessed the displacement of users who self-identity as North African, and become a point of heated contestation between Montpellier’s municipal government and local actors over who should have access to public space, and have the right to define its function. Based on 10 months of qualitative research in Montpellier, the thesis draws on ethnographic field notes, semi-structured interviews, and archival research to consider questions of civic belonging, cultural identities and their linked consumption practices, and the meaning of urban redevelopment in contested urban arenas. With the new Plan Cabanes plaza described as ‘empty space’ rather than ‘public space’, and the establishment of a brocante market instead of an ethnically diverse produce market viewed as an attempt to erase ethnic diversity from the city-centre, the municipally-led redevelopment program has been challenged for seemingly excluding certain users from public space. The thesis draws on the work of Lefebvre (1991), Ross (1996) and Klein (1997) to situate these topics in a broader discussion of French cultural identity, civic engagement, and the tacit exclusion of certain social groups and cultural practices from the city-centre.
Supervisor: Jackson, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available