The Good Governance of Mexico City's Zócalo

A Recent History of Spatial Use and Morphological Transformations

  • Benjamin A. Bross University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Abstract: The change in elected government of the Federal District (Distrito Federal), from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to that of the center-left PRD party, was of utmost importance for the evolution of the Zócalo’s representative space. Using Lefebvre’s semiotic tools for the analyses of spatial production1 through the prism of Cultural Geography and Social History, this article studies one of Mexico’s most important symbolic spaces: The Plaza de la Constitución, colloquially known as the Zócalo. With the ascension of new local and federal governments, the plaza began a process of transformation from a space controlled by the State for the State’s demonstrations of power, to an open, inclusive space for all users. As of 1997 diverse cultural, recreational, and mass movement events began to be promoted and experienced on the Plaza.2 This article explains the process by which the Zócalo began to change through spatial appropriation of the absolute space by varied groups with diverse interests and organizational purposes. In the first part, the essay discusses the so-called “March of Dignity”, which attracted the participation of people from all sectors: student and youth associations, peasant farmer and laborer communities, blue collar and low-income industrial workers, populist groups, civic organizations, to name a few. The article then describes the impact of Spencer Tunick’s project titled “May 6, 2007: naked Zócalo.” Tunick’s spatial intervention was a massive scale human participation art/happening project. Finally, the article then turns its attention to the recent Ayotzinapa protests and the symbolic significance of the damage done to the Mariana Door of the National Palace which occurred because of the civil unrest of this period.

How to Cite
Bross, B. (2018). The Good Governance of Mexico City’s Zócalo. ARCC Conference Repository.