Saturday, August 6, 2016

Where the streets have new names



Where the streets have new names: the airbrush politics of renaming roads




Is naming a street after a controversial character like Margaret Thatcher – or Bobby Sands – simply superficial, or can it cut to the heart of a city’s identity?




When the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, inaugurated Plaza Margaret Thatcher in 2014, flanked by the former British prime minister’s son Mark and his wife, it sparked a series of rows about the appropriateness of having a city square named after the “Iron Lady”.



Over the following days and months, the sign bearing Thatcher’s name was repeatedly vandalised, with Madrid-based British socialists campaigning to have the square renamed Jack Jones Plaza, after the Transport and General Workers’ Union head who fought with the International Brigades.
And when new mayor Manuela Carmena swept to power with the backing of the anti-austerity movement Podemos nine months later, British MPs were said to be up in arms at reports she was planning to wipe Thatcher’s name from the city’s street map.

While Carmena’s office issued a denial, and Plaza Margaret Thatcher still stands in Madrid, the mayor has now set her sights on street names associated with former dictator General Francisco Franco. Policies such as ordering Balthazar in the annual Three Kings parade be played by a black man rather than a white man blacked up, or opening the elite Club de Campo Villa de Madrid to the public, have proved controversial in some quarters, but it is the idea of changing Franco-era street names that has arguably gone deeper and reopened old divisions.

Keep reading here: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jun/28/streets-new-names-airbrush-politics-renaming-roads