Publication date:31 August 2010
Length of book:280 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
In the latter half of the twentieth century, millions of impoverished people all over Latin America participated in illegal seizures of urban land. As many cities became saturated with squatter settlements by the 1980s, it was expected that such invasions would wane. But the increased economic vulnerability and expansion of informal labor activity brought about by neoliberal government policies spurred yet more invasions. Their goals remained the same: reliable electricity, potable water, sewer drainage, and legal title to illegally acquired land. But changes in the economic and political context required different means for achieving these goals. Social safety nets were weakened, organized labor lost power, and some urban service monopolies were privatized—and the introduction of democratic municipal elections offered new avenues to secure these much-needed services. In this careful study of ten neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru, Paul Dosh examines these new patterns to cast light on the reasons why some neighborhood groups succeed and survive while others do not.
“Dosh is the latest in a long line of scholars who have taken an in-depth look at Lima’s squatter settlements and their internal organizations. What makes Dosh’s book exceptional is his comparative perspective (Quito as well as Lima) and the extraordinary detail that he has captured in his observations and interviews. Add to this his consistent efforts to tie his empirical inquiries to a variety of concerns in political science, and you have a truly significant piece of work.”
—Henry Dietz, University of Texas