The Role of Art in Two Neighborhoods and Responses to Urban Decay and Gentrification

One of the most troubling aspects of cultural studies, is the lack of comparative cases to expand the horizons of micro-sociology. Based on this, the present paper explores the effects of gentrification in two neighborhoods, Riverwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA and Abasto in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each neighborhood had diverse dynamics and experienced substantial changes in the urban design. In the former arts played a pivotal role in configuring an instrument of resistance, in the latter one, arts accompanied the expansion of capital pressing some ethnic minorities to abandon their homes. What is important to discuss seems to be the conditions where in one or another case arts take one or another path. While Riverwest has never been commoditized as a tourist-product, Abasto was indeed recycled, packaged and consumed to an international demand strongly interested in Tango music and Carlos Gardel biography. There, tourism served as an instrument of indoctrination that made serious asymmetries among Abasto neighbors, engendering social divisions and tensions which were conducive to real estate speculation and great financial investors. The concept of patrimony and heritage are placed under the lens of scrutiny in this investigation.