Cities From Scratch: Poverty and Informality in Urban Latin by Brodwyn Fischer, Bryan McCann, Javier Auyero

By Brodwyn Fischer, Bryan McCann, Javier Auyero

This number of essays demanding situations long-entrenched principles in regards to the background, nature, and importance of the casual neighborhoods that condominium the majority of Latin America's city bad. till lately, students have quite often seen those settlements in the course of the prisms of crime and drug-related violence, modernization and improvement theories, populist or progressive politics, or debates concerning the cultures of poverty. but shantytowns have confirmed either harder and extra multifaceted than any of those views foresaw. faraway from being unintentional offshoots of extra dynamic fiscal and political advancements, they're now an everlasting and necessary a part of Latin America's city societies, severe to struggles over democratization, monetary transformation, id politics, and the drug and palms trades. Integrating historic, cultural, and social medical methodologies, this assortment brings jointly fresh learn from throughout Latin the US, from the casual neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro and Mexico urban, Managua and Buenos Aires. Amid alarmist exposés, towns from Scratch intervenes by means of contemplating Latin American shantytowns at a brand new point of interdisciplinary complexity.

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57 Even so acute an observer as the young Josué de Castro evoked Africa in an early description of the mocambos: “‘Afogados,’ ‘Pina,’ ‘Santo Amaro,’ zones of swamps, of workers, of unemployed, of misfits, of those who came from the backlands in hunger and couldn’t make it in the city, of the rebellious and the resigned—of the vanquished. ’ An aquatic city, with houses of beaten clay and sticks (sopapo), roofs of wild grass, straw, and corrugated tin. Black cambuca fruit floating in the water. Mocambos—residual slave quarters splintered around the Big Houses of the American Venice.

122 Periodic antifavela campaigns in Rio were pushed forward in the name of eliminating social marginality, and the press frequently portrayed favelas and mocambos as sources of disease, crime, and social disorganization. It was not unheard of for favela residents to describe their neighborhoods in similar terms. 124 From very early on, these perspectives were contested from high and low, for myriad and sometimes contradictory reasons. As noted earlier, politicians across the political spectrum had begun by the 1930s to see the political advantages in portraying shantytown dwellers as mostly hardworking, family-­oriented, and decent, victims of circumstance rather than their own cultural failings.

But the question of what was lost remains. Amid thirty years of debate about the moral and intellectual capacity of the poor— debates carried out with the highest-­possible political stakes—it had become very difficult to conduct any honest public discussion of certain kinds of problems: the ways in which poverty and public violence shaped shantytown cultures; the ways in which informal systems of regulation could become small fiefdoms; the ways in which the struggle to get by in extremely degraded conditions could fray psyches, families, and communities.

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