Our House is the Extension of Our Body”: Exploring Barrio Identity in Mexico City with Gaming Software

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Grand Concourse (Colorado Convention Center)
Joshua Salyers, University of Arizona
Narrative is a pivotal mechanism for organizing and understanding the past. As new technologies impact the way scholars present history, digital visualization software allows historians the ability to transform traditional written narratives into more dynamic and interactive presentations of urban spatial history. This poster demonstrates historical visualization using a case study of the Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito, whose residents developed an identity based on resistance to government plans to regulate housing and public spaces in the Capital City's center.

As Mexico experienced decades of rapid urban growth and industrialization after 1940, influential cultural and political actors worked to redefine and homogenize the cultural identities of their constituents. Once the national population became predominately urban, large urban areas served as cultural showcases to experiment with transforming various local identities into a unified national culture. In the case of Mexico, cultural and political elites used the capital city, which absorbed the bulk of mid-twentieth century urbanization, as ground zero for a unifying aesthetic transformation targeting the materials lives of the City center's poor residents. New housing programs, interior design initiatives, and consumption regulation not only failed to initiate a significant cultural transformation in how the city center's residents used private and domestic space, but also strengthened neighborhood identities based on resistance to these programs. In neighborhoods like Tepito, the residents closed ranks to resist government attempts to destroy the vecindad-style tenement. Increasingly, Tepiteños considered the vecindad, despite deteriorating living conditions, a symbolic representation of their own resistance to cultural unification programs. The tenements provided a spatial site of resistance and identity formation. This poster demonstrates how to write narratives of space and identity formation through these digitally reconstructed vecindades. Several of the digitally-designed tenements, some of which are no longer standing, offer an example of how to provide an animated and interactive narrative using Computer-Aided Design, Building Information Modeling, and gaming software to create 3D interactive historical environments for learning and research.

See more of: Poster Session #3
See more of: AHA Sessions