By considering this problematic relationship between rural and urban, as well as highlighting its intersection with global geographies, this workshop aims to explore the instauration and propagation of structures of power, hierarchies, and resistances, which have characterized the production of the colonial and postcolonial landscapes throughout Latin America. Concentrating on four specific areas of investigation, the workshop attempts to provide a variety of standpoints from which the relationship between urban and rural can be fruitfully explored and problematized.
- Infrastructures and system of circulation: between weaves and grids, between movements and fixity
The material production of modern colonial landscape does not just work in the imaginations, but it also affects the way we move, access, and interact with space. From the production of hedges to fences in the making of private property (Blomley, 2007), to the fascination with nature as free gifts in colonial geographies (Federici 2004; Katz 1998), or the vertical colonial ventures in the mines of Potosi (Machado Aráoz 2014; Scott 2008); these historical and contemporary forms of spatial discipline enable and constrain ways of being in the world.
Uneven relations between flows, movement and fixity and control are still forming the modern colonial geographies. In this section, we follow the material geographies of coloniality. Constituted by pipes, roads, rails, aqueducts, canals, hedges, fences, to mention some, these material devices play a crucial role in connecting the city and the rural but more importantly they attempt to enable market fluidity and local people’s movement management. Nevertheless, historical experience also shows the use of these devices such as during the agrarian reform in Chile with ‘fence moving’ (corrida de cercos) to recover land, and crafted engineering solutions in slums to access water and electricity to mention some. In this section, we explore discipline and resistance through means of the materiality that produces the modern space. We ask how these devices are used for resistance under extractive capitalism? Historically how they have managed to discipline population and how they have been transfigured?
2.Extractive geographies, docile city and the violent countryside
This section aims to reflect upon the ambiguous role of the countryside in shaping national and global economic geographies. If Latin America was constructed as a global resource of raw materials since the time of its ‘discovery’, the post-independence period represented a substantial reinforcement of this structure under the order of the state nation. At the same time, in the second part of the twentieth century, ‘urban mirages’ attracted large parts of the rural population towards the principal cities, giving birth to a radical process of social transformation which signified the ‘urbanization of Latin American society’ (Quijano 1975).
Over the last three decades, a renewed land rush is happening worldwide. Particularly in the Global South, lands on the margins of capitalist extractive industries are becoming a new asset of global capitalism (Acosta 2011). The structural change of capitalist immersion in the region is affecting particularly the countryside in which land acquires a new role. There is an appearance of cities enjoying the flow of money as a result of the revenues of national exports; on the other hand, the countryside has become the scenario and source for a new spatialization of capitalism that excludes any local, human and non-human interaction. While the urban appears as more polite and gentle to its population, the rural reignites its colonial violence in a new form.
This section asks about the changing relation between urban and rural discourses under the expansion of extractive capitalism (Webber 2015; Svampa 2013; Gudynas 2012). How are landed relations understood under a new geometry of power between global markets, local and national governance bodies (Mezzadra & Neilson 2013; Gago & Mezzadra 2015) What have been the discourses in the naturalization of the extractive economies? How are bodies and land disciplined under extractive capitalism? How are enclave economies affecting land struggles? How is spatial rural displacement affecting the relation between the urban and the rural?
3.Citying failure: Architecture as colonial violence and its resistance
This section aims to explore the narratives and strategies which have been shaping Latin American urban geographies. Cities have been a traditional ‘tool’ used to organize and spread colonial and postcolonial powers; ‘urbanization’ has been considered a specific strategy in order to achieve and represent the modernisation of Latin American countries. Iconic architectural forms and urban plans like Lucío Costa’s design of Brazil new capital city are privileged perspectives to see the material imposition at the heart of the national projects. Architecture and modern urbanism through different discourses represented the attempt to erase differences and complexity of people and places.
In relation to urban planning and architecture, the research of ‘expert knowledge’, normally ‘borrowed’ from Europe or North America, strongly identified the projects of urban renovation throughout postcolonial Latin America (Almandoz 2002; 2015). For example, under the hygienist discourse at the beginning of the twentieth century, cement was the protagonist of the modern city. However, this was opposed to ‘the ephemeral city’ (Codebò 2015), ‘made of lazy and vicious population’ (Laperrière de Coni, 1902): in the urban periphery survival was improvised with housing made of sheets of iron, which constituted the beginning of ‘architecture of resistance’ that today defines large part of the Latin American urban lanscape.
By considering these tensions over ‘the right to the city’ (Lefebvre, 1969: 123) we ask: How ‘Non-pedigree’ architecture (Rudofsky, 1965) molds the city nowadays? How favelas, urban squatting, and cholets (blend of the word chola and chalet), account for the ‘otherness’ of the modern city and its constitutive contradictions? What are the relations between the rural land struggles and urban population? How is otherness configured under the global city paradigm?
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 Formally named as Estilo Nuevo Andino: New Andean-style buildings