Re-Creating a Different Everyday through the Upgrading of Informal Settlements?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Eva SCHWAB, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Liliana GALLEGO, Universidade Tuiuti do Paraná, Brazil
Since the 1990s a ‘new generation’ of governmental upgrading initiatives in informal settlements can be observed throughout Latin America, which rely on in situ physical  upgrading  to  affect  the  inhabitants’  quality  of  life  and evade  the  negative  effects  of  displacement. Public spaces are the primary intervention sites of these programmes, based on the idea that upgraded public space would trigger wider social and physical change. Design language and highly visible political campaigns play key roles in symbolically and materially connecting the formerly neglected areas with the city and more generally with urban establishment. Medellín/Colombia serves as a case in point for this development. Drawing on a case study of the upgrading process in one of the city’s most deprived neighbourhoods, Comuna 13, this paper reveals the profound effects of the upgrading process on the everyday lives of the settlers: new practices of space use supporting the creation of an ‘urban’ identity and a narrative of integration and inclusion on the one hand, which on the other hand leads to the denigration of established ‘non-urban’ practices of use, such as small scale urban agriculture and informal trade, which are important for the livelihoods of the poorer community members. Against the background of persisting poverty in these areas, this paper questions in which ways the newly introduced design imaginations can foster the empowerment of the residents when it comes to increasing their political capacities and improving their ways of reducing poverty.