UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Re)remembering the inner city : cultural production, reflexivity, and Vancouver's heritage areas Mckenzie, Murray Hugh


Cultural production constitutes a significant force in the reconstruction, reterritorialization, and reimaging of the postindustrial inner city, the privileged site of clustered production within a reconfigured metropolitan space economy. This has been best demonstrated within older precincts notably characterized by the adaptive reuse of heritage structures, often to the extent of the comprehensive restoration of entire blocks or subareas. The unique material characteristics of these enduring new industrial districts have led to an association of cultural production with a heritage built environment, generating an alluring and paradoxical aesthetic where the brick and iron of an older industrial vernacular mixes with the auras of technology, globalization, and modernity. Following the work of scholars who have introduced spatiality and materiality to the cultural industries research domain, this thesis addresses the reflexive relationship that cultural producers maintain with the unique material and semiotic characteristics of these enduring new industrial districts, in which heritage imageries and signifiers of collective memory inform creative personas, processes, and outputs. This ‘reflexive project of the self’ influences the maintenance of the built environment and has the capacity to alter imageries and collective memory wherever signifiers are re-associated or obscured. Drawing on interviews in Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as on a broad literature review incorporating sources on cultural production, the aesthetics of residential gentrification, and the ‘city of collective memory’; this paper seeks to assess a range of responses to the history of Vancouver’s inner city landscapes. The analysis demonstrates how Vancouver’s historical imageries have been romanticized and reinterpreted to inform a mythology of cultural production in the city. Our conclusions will be of interest to geographers attempting to ‘place’ cultural production within their understanding of the changing landscapes of the twenty-first century city, as well as to planners in need of a more critical interpretation of the dynamics undergirding the insistent upgrading of production districts.

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