Urban Latin America

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SOC 4800/8806, LLS 4910-001/8916-002, INS 4140-011

Urban Latin America

University of Nebraska Omaha Spring 2020

Thursdays: 2:30-5:10 pm ASH 306

Professor: Lissette Aliaga Linares, Ph.D.
Office: ASH 383P
Office Phone: 402-554 3722
laliagalinares@unomaha.edu (this is the best way to reach me) Office hours: By appointment

Course description

About 80 percent of the Latin American population lives in cities today, a doubling the share of what it was in the 1950s. Latin America ́s dramatic shift from mostly rural to highly-urbanized region was the first wave or urbanization in the developing world and has important economic, political and social ramifications. In many ways, the future of Latin America depends on how its cities will respond to current challenges in urban planning, economic development, and democratization. As the pioneer urbanized region, the lessons of Latin America’s urbanization can give us a better understanding of our urban futures.

Using a sociological perspective, this course surveys the urbanization experience of Latin America, exploring its consequences and challenges. The first half of the course will provide an historical overview of the evolution of Latin American cities. This overview will help us contextualize the contemporary trends that lead to Latin America’s fast urbanization since the mid-twentieth century and explore different theoretical city models (e.g. colonial, pre-industrial, industrial, global, etc.). Then, we will explore the factors that shaped the structure of Latin American cities and gave birth to many of its most-known urban forms (e.g. favelas, squatter settlements, and plazas, as well as gated communities). Finally, we will discuss current challenges, learn from recent policy innovations, and problematize how they meet the current challenges of global urbanization.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this class, students should be able to:
1. Be familiar with basic concepts of urban sociology
2. Have experience in exploring social issues comparatively.
3. Understand and distinguish Latin American urbanization and its connections to the global economy 4. Have a basic knowledge on contemporary issues of Latin America’s urban development.

Last but not least, I hope that through your exploration of Latin American cities, you get some takeaways, lessons or questions that can help you reflect about your urban experience in the United States.

Required Texts

For your convenience, all texts will be available through Canvas under the module section for every week. Some course materials will be available to read online through the E-book library.

Course Format, Requirements and Evaluation

The course format will be a combination of lectures, student presentations, class activities and discussions. Set aside enough time to read about 50 pages each week. You are expected to complete all required readings and write posts/summaries prior to class meetings. During class time, your input is crucial. Each student will be given a different set of readings. Your readings will complement those of your classmates and will help the class work through our discussions and activities.

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The final grade will be based on:

Weekly Responses (15 @ 5 pts each) 75 points Every Wednesday before midnight, students will write a 150-300-words post on Canvas. Check the discussion board a week in advance to familiarize with those questions before reading the assigned course material. No late reading posts will be accepted.

Participation 75 points Regular attendance, punctuality and engagement with the readings are key for the successful completion of this course. You will earn a point per day of attendance (15 pts total) and will be evaluated on the quality of participation in class (3 pts per class session for 45 pts total). Keep in mind that even if excusing an absence, students will not be able to reinstate neither attendance nor participation points.

Each student will also have an opportunity to lead discussions for the third part section of the course (15 pts total). To lead the discussions, students will need to be responsible for developing discussion questions based on the interpretation of the readings. You will need to pick the dates no later than Thursday, March 5th. Additional guidelines will be posted on canvas.

Analytic Papers (3 @ 100 pts each) 300 points First paper: Historic city profile

During the first part semester, you will analyze the evolution of a Latin American city of your choice from a suggested list of cities that have not been covered in enough detail in class. For this city, you will explore the social, economic, and political context that shaped its development. You need to notify your instructor about your city choice no later than Thursday January 30th.

Second paper: Film Analysis
You will analyze a Latin American film using your knowledge on Latin American urbanization and the

intersections of space and place, by integrating the materials discussed in class in the second part of the course. The list of options and specific instructions will be available on Canvas

Third paper: Urban Problem Analysis
Students will analyze urban issue about the Latin American city. You will compile a literature review on the issue to evaluate different perspectives on how to handle that particular urban problem. Specific instructions will be available in Canvas.

Final grades will be based upon a standard grading scale: A+= 97-100, A=94-96%, A-=90-93%, B+=87-89%, B=84-86%, B-=80-83%, C=70-79%, D=60-69%, F=59% and below. For students taking the course on a credit/non-credit basis, a grade of C- (70% or better) is passing for undergraduate credit. As part of the gradingcriteria, keep in mind that A is reserved for outstanding work. Assignments that only meet the minimum requirements but are not particularly clear or lack depth will be granted a C.

Class Policies

Attendance policy: For the successful completion of the course, attendance is mandatory for every class and for the full class period. If you are having trouble in completing the requirements for this course or attending regularly, I strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment and discuss your situation with me in advance.

Late policy: For any project component, a late assignment penalty of a 10% grade reduction will be assessed for every day beyond a given deadline, after five days submission links on Canvas will be deactivated.

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Resubmission Policy: You can resubmit your assignments to improve your grade. To request a resubmission, schedule an appointment with Prof. Aliaga. Once approved, the assignment link will reopen and stay active for one week. Be aware that revised exercises will be accepted only if the comments and suggestions from the instructor were substantially addressed.

Email policy: I do not regularly check email on the weekends, late after working hours, or during university holidays. If you have questions about an upcoming assignment, exam, class reading, or otherwise need to contact me, please plan accordingly.

Weather Policy: Classes will be canceled if OPS closes due to severe weather conditions. To be able to move with the class schedule, during those days, I will provide an additional discussion forum or other type of activity on Canvas. Those additional activities will be either due on the same day of class before midnight or on another date during the week as announced by the instructor. These assignment will be counted as class participation points.

University Policies

Academic Integrity: The maintenance of academic honesty and integrity is a vital concern of the University community at UNO. Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Academic Integrity is subject to both academic and disciplinary sanctions. Please read carefully what those actions are and could entail at http://www.unomaha.edu/graduate-studies/academic-integrity.php

Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations are provided for students who are registered with Disability Services and make their requests sufficiently in advance. For more information, contact Disability Services (MBSC 111, Phone: 554-2872, TTY: 554-3799) or go to the website: www.unomaha.edu/disability

Sexual Misconduct: UNO seeks to provide an environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment. If you have been the victim of harassment, misconduct, or assault, we encourage you to report this. If you report sexual assault, sexual misconduct or sexual harassment to a UNO faculty or staff member, by law she or he must notify UNO's Title IX Coordinator, Charlotte Russell (402-554-3490) about the basic facts of the incident. Students wishing to have a confidential conversation with a designated campus representative may contact UNO Counseling Services (402-554-2409) or UNO Ombudsperson, Dr. Shereen Bingham (402-554- 4857). For more information about campus resources at UNO, please go to the UNO Student Safety Website at: http://www.unomaha.edu/student-life/student-safety/index.php

Additional University Resources

You will find useful some resources on campus to complete your class project. Please take your time to familiarize with:

1) 2)


Omer Farooq, Social Science Librarian, at Criss Library, can help you find some research resources about your city. His contact information is listed on Canvas under Library Resources.

The Interdisciplinary Research Commons offers open lab hours with consultants that could help you drafting research questions, exploring appropriate methods, and assessing your literature review. The Lab is located in ASH 304. For open lab hours check schedule at https://www.unomaha.edu/college-of- arts-and-sciences/research/interdisciplinary-research-commons.php

The Writing Center, located in ASH 150 (www.unomaha.edu/writingcenter),

Disclaimer: This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change at the discretion of the Instructor to accommodate instructional and/or student needs.

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PART I FOUNDATIONS AND HISTORICAL OVERVIEW Week 1| 01/16: Introduction and Overview

Assigned readings:
Lampard, Eric. E. 1965. “Historical aspects of urbanization”. In: Philip M. Hauser and Leo F. Schrone

(eds) The Study of Urbanization. John Wiley and Sons Inc: New York. Pp. 519-550.
Wirth, Louis. 1938. “Urbanism as a way of life”. The American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 44 (1):1-24.
Post on Canvas no later than 5:00 pm on Sunday, January 19th.

Week 2| 01/23: Pre-Columbian Cities (from 2500 B.C. to late 1500s)

Assigned Readings
One of the following articles:
Hardoy, Jorge E. 1973. “Did the Mayas build cities?” In:
Pre-Columbian Cities. Walker and Company: New York. Pp: 241-288.

Katz, Friedrich. 2011. “A Comparison of Some Aspects of the Evolution of Cuzco and Tenochtitlán”. In: Urbanization in the American from its Beginning. De Gruyer Mouton: Munchen. Pp. 203-214.

In-class documentary: The Lost Pyramids of Caral

Week 3| 01/30: Colonial Cities (from 1500s to early 1800s)

Assigned Readings
Hardoy, Jorge. 2011. “European Urban Forms in the Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries and their Utilization in Latin America”. In: Urbanization in the American from its Beginning. De Gruyer Mouton: Munchen. Pp.215-248.

AND, one of the following case studies from Gilbert, Joseph and Mark D. Szuchman.1998. I Saw a City Invincible (Available through E-Book Library): Chapter 2 (Mexico City), Chapter 3 (Lima), Chapter 4 (Buenos Aires), Chapter 5 (Salvador de Bahia).

Due. Email instructor your city selection.

Week 4| 02/06: The Republic City (from 1840 to late 1930s)

Assigned Readings
Portes, Alejandro and John Walton. 1944. “The Economy and Ecology of Urban Poverty”. In:

Latin America: The Political Condition from Above and Below. University of Texas Press: Austin. Pp. 7-25.
AND, One of the following case studies from Pineo, Ronn and James A. Baer.1995. Cities of Hope (Available on Canvas): Chapter 1 (Bogotá), Chapter 2 (Montevideo), Chapter 5 (Buenos Aires), Chapter 8 (Rio de Janeiro), and Chapter 9 (Panamá). OR Chapter 9 (Sao Paulo) from Gilbert, Joseph and Mark D. Szuchman.1995. I Saw a City Invincible (Available through E-Book Library).

In-class exercise: basic indicators of urbanization

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Week 5| 02/13: The Industrial City (from 1940s to 1980s)

Assigned readings:
Roberts, Bryan. 1995. “Urbanization and Industrialization”. In:
The Making of the Citizens: Cities of Peasants Revisited. Taylor and Francis Ltd.: London, UK. Pp. 55-86.


One of the following: Chapter 11 (Mexico), Chapter 10 (Sao Paulo) In: I Saw a City Invincible (Available through E-Book Library), Guayana-Venezuela, and Brasilia by Holston (these latter two on Canvas).
In-class documentary: Brasilia Life After Design

Week 6| 02/20 Towards the Free Market City (1980 to the present)

Assigned Readings:
Roberts, Bryan and Alejandro Portes. 2005. “The Free-Market City: Latin American Urbanization in the Years of the Neoliberal Experiment.”
Studies in Comparative International Development 40 (1): 43-82 AND
One of the following country case studies from Portes, Alejandro, José Itzigsohn and Carlos Dore Cabral. 1994. The Urban Caribbean Transition to the New Global Economy: Chapter 3 (Costa Rica), Chapter 4 (Haiti), Chapter 5 (Guatemala), Chapter 6 (Dominican Republic), OR
One of the following city case studies from Gilbert, Alan (Ed.) The Mega-City in Latin America: Chapter 6 (Buenos Aires), Chapter 7 (Lima), Chapter 8 (Mexico City), Chapter 9 (Rio de Janeiro), Chapter 10 (Sao Paulo), Chapter 11 (Bogotá). Book available online: http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu23me/uu23me00.htm


Week 7| 02/27: The Socio-spatial Structure of Latin American Cities

Assigned readings:
Griffin, Ernst. 1980. “A model of Latin American City Structure”.
American Geographical Society 70 (4): 397-422.

Sabatini, Francisco. 2003. “Socio-spatial Segregation in the Cities of Latin America”. Pp. 1-6 AND, one of the following:

Telles, Edward E. 1995. “Race, Class, and Space in Brazilian Cities.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 19(3): 395-406.

Williams Castro, Fatimah. 2012. “Afro-Colombians and the Cosmopolitan City: New Negotiations of Race and Space in Bogotá, Colombia”. Latin American Perspectives 189, 40(2) :105-117.

ALSO Watch one of this video case studies (Links on Canvas): Mexico & Peru; Brazil; Haiti/Dominican Republic, Cuba from Black in Latin America or “Choleando: Racism in Peru”.

First paper due. Historic city profiles.

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Week 8|03/05: The Squatter Settlements

Assigned readings/Materials:
Wacquant and Auyero Debate include : Wacquant, Loïc. 1997. “Three Pernicious Premises in the Study

of the American Ghetto.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21 (2): 341-353. &

Auyero, Javier. 1997. “Wacquant in the Argentine Slums: Comment on Loïc Wacquant’s ‘Three pernicious premises in the study of the American Ghetto.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21(3): 508-511.

Gilbert, Alan. 2012. “On the Absence of Ghettos in Latin American Cities”. In: The Ghetto: Contemporary Global Issues and Controversies. Hutchison, Ray and Bruce D. Haynes (eds). Philadelphia: Westview Press. Pp: 390-430.

Eckstein, Susan. 1990. “Urbanization Revisited: Inner-City Slum of Hope and Squatter Settlement of Despair”. World Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 165-181.

Salcedo, Rodrigo. 2010. “The Last Slum: Moving from Illegal Settlements to Subsidized Home Ownership in Chile”. Urban Affairs Review 46(1): 90-118.

In class documentary: The Forgotten Americans

Week 9|03/12: Fortified Enclaves, Commercial Gentrification, and Contested Public Spaces

Assigned readings One of the following:

Caldeira, Teresa P. R. 1996. “Fortified Enclaves: The New Urban Segregation”. Public Culture, 1996, 8: 303-328.

Alvarez-Rivadulla, María José. 2007. “Golden Ghettos: Gated Communities and Class Residential Segregation in Montevideo, Uruguay”. Environment and Planning A: 39 (1):41-63.

Sabatini, Francisco and Rodrigo Salcedo. 2007. “Gated Communities and the poor in Santiago de Chile: Functional and Symbolic Integration in the Contest of Aggressive Capitalist Colonization of Lower- class Areas”. Housing Debate 18 (3): 577-606.

Bayón, María Cristina and Gonzalo Saravi. 2013. “The Cultural Dimensions of Urban Fragmentation: Segregation, Sociability, and Inequality in Mexico city”. Latin American Perspectives 189, 40(2): 35-52.

Rodgers, Dennis. 2004. “Disembedding the city: crime, insecurity and spatial organization in Managua, Nicaragua” Environment & Urbanization 16(2): 113-123

Klaufus, Christien. 2010. “Watching the city grow: remittances and sprawl in intermediate Central American Cities”. Environment & Urbanization 22(1): 125-137

AND, one of the following:
Low, Setha. 2000. “Spatializing Culture: The Social Construction of Public Space in Costa Rica”.

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Servigna, Ana. 2015. “Whose plaza is it, anyway? Chávez’s Bolivarianism and Contested Public Spaces in Caracas”. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 20 (3): 475-495.

Galvis, Juan Pablo. 2014. “Remaking equality: Community governance and the Politics of Exclusion in Bogotá’s public spaces”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38(4):1458-75.

Stillerman, Joel and Rodrigo Salcedo. 2012. “Transposing the Urban to the Mall: Routes, Relationships, and Resistance in Two Santiago de Chile’s Shopping Centers”. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 41(3): 309-336.

Dávila, Arlene. “Shopping Malls and the Fight for Public Space” From her book El Mall PART III: A CLOSER LOOK TO THE URBAN CHALLENGES & SOCIAL INNOVATIONS

Week 10|03/19: Affordable Housing

Assigned readings
Valenzuela, Alfonso. 2016. “Failed Markets: The Crisis in the Private Production of Social Housing in Mexico”.
Latin American Perspectives 44(2): 38-51.
Angotti, Tom. 2017. “Uruguay’s Housing Cooperatives: Alternative to the Private Market”. In: Urban Latin America pp.201-212.
Hamberg, Jill. 2017. “Housing and Urban Development in the Cuban Revolition”. In: Urban Latin America pp.186-200.


Select one city case study from Ward, Peter, Edith Jimenez and Mercedes Di Virgilio. 2015. Housing Policy in Latin American cities: A New Generation of Strategies and Approaches for 2016 UN Habitat III: Chapter 4 (Mexico city and Monterrey), Chapter 5 (Santo Domingo), Chapter 6 (Guatemala city), Chapter 7 (Bogotá), Chapter 8 (Lima), Chapter 9 (Santiago de Chile), Chapter 10 (Montevideo), Chapter 11 (Buenos Aires).

In-class documentary: The Property Ladder

Week 11|04/02: Environmental Sustainability

Assigned readings
Romero, Patricia. 2007. “Are we missing the point? Particularities of urbanization sustainability and carbon emissions in Latin American cities”.
Environment and Urbanization 19:159-174.
AND, one of the following environmental research case studies: Curitiba, Quito and Buenos Aires (on Canvas)

In-Class Documentary: A convenient truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil Second paper due. Film Analysis.

*** SEMESTER BREAK 03/22-03/29***

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Week 12|04/09: Crime and Social Cohesion

Assigned readings
Roberts, Bryan R. 2011. “The Consolidation of the Latin American City and the Undermining of Social Cohesion”.
City & Community, 10(4):414-423, December 2011.
Swanson, Kate. 2013. “Zero Tolerance in Latin America: Punitive Paradox in Urban Policy Mobilities”. Urban Geography. Vol. 34(7): 972-988.

AND One of the following case studies from “Violence and Resilience in Latin American Cities” : Caracas, San Salvador, Bogota OR,

Colak, Alexandra. A. and Jenny Pearce. 2015. “Securing the global city? An analysis of the ‘Medellín Model’ through participatory research”. Vol. 15 (3)Ñ 197-228.

In-class documentary: Ya Basta: Kidnapped in Mexico/ The Miracle of Medellin

Week 13|04/16: Informal Livelihoods

Assigned readings
Portes, Alejandro and Richard Schauffer. 1993. “Competing Perspectives on the Latin American Informal Sector”.
Population and Development Review Vol. 19 (1): 33-56.
Biles, James J. 2009. “Informal work in Latin America: Competing Perspectives and Recent Debates”. Geography Compass. Vol. 3 (1): 214-236.

AND, one of the following:
Aliaga-Linares, Lissette. 2018. “The Paradoxes of Informalizing Street Trade in the Latin American

City”.International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 38(7/8): 651-672.
Kersh, Jeronimo Dailany. 2017. “Women’s small scale, home-based informal employment during

Cuba’s special period.” Latin American Perspectives 45(1): 175-194.
Rojas-Garcia, Georgina and Monica Patricia Toledo. 2018. “Paid Domestic Work: Gender and the

Informal Economy in Mexico”. Latin American Perspectives 45(1): 146-162
Rosaldo, Manuel. 2016. “Revolution in the Garbage Dump: The Political and Economic Foundations of

the Colombian Recycler Movement 1986-2011”. Social Problems 63: 351-372. In- class documentary: City Rising: The Informal Economy

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Week 14|04/23: Urban Planning Innovations

Assigned readings/materials

One city case study from Mc Guirk, Justin. 2014. Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search for a New Architecture: Chapter 2 (Lima and Santiago), Chapter 2 (Rio de Janeiro), Chapter 6 (Bogotá), Chapter 7 (Medellín), Chapter 8 (Tijuana).OR

One of the following from the NACLA Report on the Americas “Radical Cities” on either Bolivia, Venezuela, Buenos Aires, or Recife, OR ALSO, watch one TED talk from: Jaime Aravena (Santiago de Chile), Enrique Peñaloza (Bogotá), Jaime Lerner (Curitiba-Brazil), and Teddy Cruz (Border innovations)

In-Class Documentary: Extracts from Beyond Elections & Urbanized

Week 15|04/30: Urban Governance

Assigned readings
Godfrank, Benjamin and Andrew Schrank. 2009. “Municipal Neoliberalism and Municipal Socialism: Urban Political Economy in Latin America”.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33 (2): 443-462.

AND One of the case studies from “Capital City Politics in Latin America”: Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guatemala City, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Santiago OR.

Souza, Celina. 2001. “Participatory budgeting in Brazilian cities: Limits and Possibilities in Building Democratic Institutions”. Environment and Urbanization Vol. 13 (1): 159-184.

Gilbert, Alan. 2015. “Urban Governance in the South: How did Bogotá lose its shine?” Vol 52 (4): 665-684.

In-Class Documentary: Public Money/ Bogota Improving Civic Behavior Third Paper due: Monday 05/04:No class. Submit online before midnight

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