Glasgow’s Italian Centres

Narrative, identity, regeneration

Authored by: Sarah Edwards

The Routledge Companion on Architecture, Literature and The City

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472482730
eBook ISBN: 9781315613154
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay will explore a range of literary and architectural narratives that represent and reshape the city of Glasgow through its historic and contemporary associations with Italian culture. It will focus, in particular, on the diverse and conflicting representations of the Italian Centre, a mixed-use development of flats, shops, cafes and restaurants that was an early and important example of Glasgow City Council’s regeneration of the ‘Merchant City’ district. By examining a range of little-studied narratives about the Italian Centre – architectural reviews, advertising and sales material by property and other commercial agents, interviews with the architect, as well as novels published in the early twenty-first century – I will consider how these narratives promote, analyse or critique the social implications of the ‘culture-led regeneration’ that the Centre apparently embodied. I will also briefly compare these representations with several semi-autobiographical narratives about historic Italian-Glaswegian identities and cultures, and particularly the functional and symbolic role of the café. By thus examining texts written outside the geographic and cultural ‘Centre’ of Glasgow, I will locate counter-narratives about urban regeneration and the formation of civic and national identities.

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