spatializing culture: the social production and social construction of public space in Costa Rica



In this article I explore how an integrated approach to the anthropological study of urban space would work ethnographically. I discuss four areas of spatial/cultural analysis—historical emergence, sociopolitical and economic structuring, patterns of social use, and experiential meanings—as a means of working out of the methodological implications of broader social construction theoretical perspectives. Two plazas in San José, Costa Rica, furnish ethnographic illustrations of the social mediating processes of spatial practices, symbolic meaning, and social control that provide insight into the conflicts that arise as different groups and sociopolitical forces struggle to claim and define these culturally significant public spaces. [urban space, ethnographic methods, plazas, Costa Rica, social production, social construction]