From Slum to Village: A Semiotic Analysis in Reimaging Urban Space

  • Harry H. Hiller University of Calgary
  • Pernille Tranholm Goodbrand University of Calgary
Keywords: urban semiotics, imagineering, slum, urban village, mixed class


The transformation of inner city spaces has been dominated by explanations stressing political economy factors such as rent gap and cultural factors such as urban amenities. This paper takes a different approach in that it uses the tools of urban semiotics to show how the representations of space in a downtown location of protracted decline in the Canadian city of Calgary are transformed discursively and experientially to produce a different image for a different social class. What made this reimaging of space so critical was the fact that the displacement of the existing population was rejected which called for a powerful and aggressive semiotic reinterpretation of the area. The semiotic strategies are discussed in relation to the material changes which reveal the contradictions and dilemmas in attempting to create a mixed class community through revitalizing imagery rather than merely redevelopment.

Author Biographies

Harry H. Hiller, University of Calgary
Department of Sociology
Pernille Tranholm Goodbrand, University of Calgary
Department of Sociology