Skip to content Skip to navigation

Urban Improvisation in Latin American Cities

Conference Date: 
Friday, May 6, 2016
Wallenberg Hall, CESTA Lab

Large numbers of people in the megacities of the Global South depend on what social scientists call the “informal” sector: a vast range of practices that fall outside formal institutions of the state and the market. Most of these informal activities are improvised and sporadic, even dysfunctional. Yet this world of informal labor and enterprise has internal structures, regularities, histories and dynamics that are often unique to their region but are rarely incorporated into debates on urban development.  This workshop will bring scholars with detailed empirical knowledge of informal work and economies into conversation with scholars engaged in more abstract modeling and comparison. The aim is to begin to reshape urban theory by incorporating the actual regularities and dynamics of the social lives of urbanites in the Global South.

Session I 12:30-2:30pm

Matthew Vitz (UCSD) | The Dance of a Dialectic: Improvised and Routinized Urbanization in Twentieth-century Mexico City

Ana Raquel Minian (Stanford) | Developing Translocal Spaces Through Clubs Sociales

Carlos Forment (New School) | Plebeian Citizenship and the Ethico-Political Practices of the Ungoverned: Buenos Aires’ La Salada Market and Emergent Forms of Democratic Life Across the Global South

Session II 3-6pm

Amy Chazkel (CUNY) | Seeking the Cover of Darkness by Gaslight: The Urban Nighttime as a Resource in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro

Bryan McCann (Georgetown) | Parque Madureira and the Real City: From Olympian Branding to Popular Mobilization

Mariana Cavalcanti (IESP/UERJ) | "Gambiarra politics" and Olympic Urbanism in Rio de Janeiro

Helene Risør (PUC-Chile) | Closing down bars in the inner city centre: Informal urban planning, civil insecurity and subjectivity in Bolivia


A symposium sponsored by the Urban Beyond Measure Initiative, Stanford University

May 6, 2016