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José Miguel Iribas, In Memoriam

The Sociologist of Tourism

31/05/2018


With the death of José Miguel Iribas on 20 April, Benidorm and the Mediterranean model of intensive tourism, in general, have lost their leading propagandist. Born in the year 1950 in Bergara (Guipúzcoa) but into a family from Navarre, Iribas first arrived in Benidorm early in the decade of the 1970s, a time when mass tourism in beaches was reviled for different reasons and by progressives and elites alike, though at the heart of the matter, both groups despised the same thing: its popular character. Strongly influenced by Henri Lefebvre (in whose view Benidorm was the planet’s most liveable city built after World War II), Iribas himself and his alter ego Mario Gaviria (an interview with whom is also published in this issue) did not see the Alicante city as a Babel of bad taste, but on the contrary, as an efficient model of good use of land, energy, and water resources.

Iribas presented these ideas in Benidorm, ciudad nueva (Benidorm, New City), an influential 1977 book which led to collaborations with the Administration. Later, having settled in Valencia, he pursued his career as a consultant in territorial diagnostics and programs, participating in numerous urban development plans (working for figures of the caliber of Jean Nouvel and Jaime Lerner), and complementing these endeavors with theoretical research – in 2007 he published El efecto Albacete (The Albacete Effect) – as well as his facet as a polemicist through highly incisive articles, many of them printed in Arquitectura Viva, to which he was a frequent contributor.


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