ABSTRACT

El barrio-the central space, culture, conflict, and resistance of and within-is the foundation of Chicana/o urbanism throughout the United States. Both as a reality and a representation, it encompasses myriad interpretations. In terms of spatial relations, it is historically a zone of segregation and repression. Uneven development, inflated rents, low wage labor, lack of housing, and the worst abuses of urban renewal best characterize barrios in the arena of urban policy. Conversely, within the context of everyday life, el barrio is the reaffirmation of culture, a defense of space, an ethnically bounded sanctuary, and the spiritual zone of Chicana/o and Mexicana/o identity. It is a powerful, intense space that has defined the independence and resistance of a culture that predates Euro-American influences on city life and urban form. El barrio, then, relates to key themes in United States urbanism in many ways-in terms of physical locale, economic inequality, cultural solidarity, racial injustice, and political mobilization.