Juggling aesthetics and surveillance in paradise: Ecuadorians in Madrid’s Retiro Park | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 26, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1364-971X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9150



The literature on parks and recreation has traditionally employed definitions of parks as products, rather than processes tied to economic, political and social dynamics that comfortably exceed park boundaries. As a cultural process, mental and physical, local and global, Madrid’s emblematic park of El Retiro is at the intersection of personal choices/desires and constructions of race, class, gender and nation, always articulated through dynamics of power. This article examines the significance of Ecuadorian immigrant gatherings in El Retiro between 2000 and 2003, focusing on the entwinement between the municipality’s decisions over the park’s form and use, and larger patterns of injustice occurring at a variety of scales, as the city (re-)positions itself vis-à-vis current methods of capital accumulation. An analysis of El Retiro’s recently constructed Bosque del Recuerdo, a memorial to the victims of the bomb attacks in Madrid’s trains on 11 March 2004, reveals the ties between the expulsion of Ecuadorians from El Retiro and the pseudo-sacralization of Ecuadorian casualties following the bombings. Through an in-depth analysis of the space for this ‘memorial’, as form and content, this article unearths the mutual constituencies of El Retiro as lived and imagined, local and global, and central in the histories of Madrid’s Ecuadorian residents.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Ecuador; Madrid; migration; Retiro; space; urban parks
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