About Mapping the Movida

What did the Madrid of the Movida look like? 

Mapping the Movida is an open web archive and geo-spatial project that visualizes the cultural and creative hubs and networks of the Movida, a sociological phenomenon and cultural renaissance that emerged in the first decade of Spanish democracy (roughly 1976-1986), most notably in Madrid. Vanessa Ceia (Assistant Professor, McGill University) created Mapping the Movida during her tenure as Postdoctoral College Fellow in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University in 2016-17. This project is a response to the limited scope of artists–mostly male and active in central Madrid–historically associated with the Movida in mainstream press and scholarship. In its mission to bring to light uncharted human geographies of the period, Mapping the Movida aims to:

(1) re-create the Madrid of the Movida using a range of multimedia, data and thick mapping technologies that not only catalyze the present but also go back in time to document the Madrid of the past;

(2) visualize creative networks and cultural hubs of the Movida through various cultural lenses–including national Spanish media outlets (El PaísABC, El Mundo), scholarly articles, and subcultural publications from the period (La Luna de Madrid, El Víbora, Ozono, Madrid Me Mata, and zines)–to reveal how each lens represents the Movida in different and/or similar ways;

(3) create a public archive and searchable database of Movida events and artists’ documented movements in Madrid during the Movida (1976-1986); and

(4) de-colonize the geographies of the Movida by revealing new spaces, artists, and socio-economic classes that problematize the cultural and spatial canon of the Movida.

Inspired by the thick mapping and visualization projects of Todd Presner, David Shepard, Yoh Kawano, and Johanna Drucker, this project began with a map of the Movida as imagined by Spain’s major news outlets (ABCEl Mundo, El País) and the works of prominent scholars of the Movida and Spanish Transition. This original baseline map was limited to 16 points of interest referenced in 309 articles about the Movida in El País, Spain’s most widely read newspaper. After mining data from events listings and advertisements from subcultural publications and zines from the period, the map of the Movida has expanded to 230 locations in Madrid, including peripheral neighborhoods and largely working-class municipalities such as Alcorcón and Carabanchel. At stake in these findings, are both the cultural geographies of Madrid during this period and the many minority artists who have yet to be studied within the corpus of so-called Movida artists and texts. These include artists such as Moral Dudosa and Acrobacia Terrestre, and locations such as Sala Imperio, about which details can be found in the postings on this site.

It should be noted that, though this project focuses on the greater Madrid Metropolitan Area, the Movida was not limited to the Spanish capital. A number of ‘Movidas’ occured in major cities across Spain’s autonomous communities, particularly in Galicia, Catalunya, the Basque Country, and Andalucía. In future, and in the spirit of de-centralizing the Movida archive, Mapping the Movida will also explore creative networks, key locations, and human geographies beyond Madrid. Key sources for this expansion include subcultural publications such as El Tintimán (Vigo), Star (Barcelona), and Carajillo (Barcelona).

About Vanessa Ceia
Vanessa Ceia (Ph.D., New York University; M.A., McGill University; B.A., University of Toronto) is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies and Digital Humanities at McGill University. Her research interests include 20th- and 21st-century Spanish literature and cultural studies, Iberian and Ibero-African cinemas and photography, gender and queer theories, poetics of democracy and opposition, intersections of technology, politics and culture, and the digital humanities. She has published on Spanish cinema and is currently writing a book on representations of the body in the literary and visual culture of the Movida madrileña. Her book explores how the culture of early post-authoritarian Spain produced alternative forms of political and social engagement that were grounded in the body and in new identities and subjectivities made possible by democracy, drug use, and sexual freedom. Mapping the Movida is an essential part of this project.


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  1. Such an important and creative project! You mention Johanna Drucker. I just the other day read her article “Reading Interface” and was wondering what you have been reading by Drucker for this project? #hastac17


    • Hi Emily, in this case I am referring to her book Graphesis (2013), in which she analyzes the visual organization of knowledge and puts forth a number of key terms with which to speak critically about visualizations.


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