A magazine that listens

After almost thirty years of uninterrupted publication, Barcelona Metropolis is coming out with its 100th issue. For more than three decades it has endeavoured to explain the city to Barcelonians and to the world at large. The magazine has also been a platform for debate and for sharing the challenges and changes faced by a city in constant transformation.

The brainchild of former Barcelona mayor Pasqual Maragall, the magazine was intended to give Barcelona an expressive tool that would cast the city as a great Mediterranean metropolis in the midst of a period of pre-Olympic acceleration. Edited for twenty years by Joan-Anton Benach, the publication’s beginnings were marked by a distinctly cultural focus. This was particularly evident in its central supplement, where cultural topics were explored in depth.

First released under the title of Barcelona. Metròpolis Mediterrània, it has always been a tri-lingual (Catalan, Spanish and English) publication, a quality that has helped it become a data source for scholars and biographers of the city. As founding editor Joan-Anton Benach mentions in the interview that opens this issue, Australian writer and art critic Robert Hughes extensively combed the pages of this magazine for research material that he would use to write his book Barcelona, a monumental work that helped explain the city to the world through art and literature.

The publication evolved and was eventually renamed Barcelona Metròpolis. Edited by Manuel Cruz between 2008 and 2011, and then by Bernat Puigtobella from 2012, it has progressively widened its spectrum of interests to become a magazine open to all topics that are a part of Barcelona’s everyday urban and social transformation. Just like Pasqual Maragall, the mayors that succeeded him – Joan Clos, Jordi Hereu, Xavier Trias and Ada Colau – have all been more than respectful and afforded full editorial independence to our editors, who have all shared the common mission of inspiring critical discourse.

Now more than ever, the meaning and integrity of a magazine like this one lie in its ability to observe how the people of Barcelona comprehend and adapt to new times. It is not really such a question of telling an institutional story as it is about stimulating debate regarding our challenges and listening to the people and communities that get things done and contribute to progress with a transformative spirit. We also try to give to experts in a variety of fields free reign to express themselves and identify important dilemmas and junctures.

Our city has always had narcissistic and self-congratulatory tendencies, which have counterbalanced our other defeatist and bad-natured habits. For obvious reasons, the City Council has always done a good job of shining a positive light on its governing actions. It nonetheless needs outlets such as this one that enable it to put labels aside and listen to the citizenry with an open ear. The magazine looks forward to expanding its content in the future, but from now on it will be published in print in only two languages (the English version will be available exclusively online).

Barcelona Metròpolis will continue with its mission to focus in on the city and its metropolitan area. We will also maintain our commitment to the values that have always distinguished us and to challenging and vital issues such as peace, equality, sustainability and the necessary co-existence between diverse ideologies and ways of navigating the urban experience.

Happy birthday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *