Place Essentialism in Valparaiso


¡Me gusta todos los colores de Valparaiso!

Valparaíso is a hugely popular city in Chile. Over time, many significant changes to its usage, appearance and ‘essence’ have occurred.

In general, tourism thrives on place essentialism and pushing one aspect of a place. Today, Valparaíso’s dominant ‘imaginative geography’ is centered on its UNESCO-designated downtown, with Chile’s main port, colonial architecture and bohemian markets. The history of the area’s original inhabitants, the Chango Indians is therefore hidden.

Massey’s idea of a ‘progressive sense of place’ is helpful here to challenge essentialism.

Uno – Valparaíso is always evolving – it has gone from land of the indigenous people, to the most important town on the pacific coast, to a tourist hub.

Dos – Valparaíso has multiple identities and ongoing histories. It has been ‘owned’ by many people over time, but now it is important to Chile on a national scale, to the world as a significant heritage site, and to every traveller who has created memories there.

Tres – the uniqueness of Valparaiso is defined by its interactions with other places, through its trade route of eras past, and processes, of tourism and travel today.

Valparaíso, like any town, is an organic place that must grow and move on with time. It’s historic centre is currently being restored. I wonder what its future will hold!

¡Verdad quiero viajar a Valparaíso! Los colores de la ciudad parecen hermosos. También, quiero aprender más sobre la historia de Valparaíso de hablar con la gente, ¡no sólo desde el Internet!


2 thoughts on “Place Essentialism in Valparaiso

    1. Hmm, maybe in preserving Valparaiso, it will mean that the same ‘essence’ of the town remains forever. However, I believe that we will continue to find new meanings for Valparaiso. These will not replace the old ones, but just add a new layer to its ever-growing ‘essence’!


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