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Housing in the Latin American City, 1900–1976

Summary and Keywords

Housing has been a central feature of Latin America’s dramatic transformation into the most urbanized region of the world. Between 1940 and 1970, the portion of people who lived in urban areas rose from 33 percent to 64 percent; a seismic shift that caused severe housing deficits, overcrowding, and sprawl in Latin America’s major cities. After the Second World War, these urban slums became a symbol of underdevelopment and a target for state-led modernization projects. At a time when Cold War tensions were escalating throughout the world, the region’s housing problems also became more politicized through a network of foreign aid agencies. These overlapping factors illustrate how the history of local housing programs were bound up with broader hemispheric debates over economic development and the role of the nation-state in social affairs.

The history of urban housing in 20th-century Latin America can be divided into three distinct periods. The first encompasses the beginning of the 20th century, when issues of housing in the central-city districts were primarily viewed through the lens of public health. Leading scientists, city planners, psychiatrists, and political figures drew strong connections between the sanitary conditions of private domiciles and the social behavior of their residents in public spaces. After the Second World War, urban housing became a proving ground for popular ideas in the social sciences that stressed industrialization and technological modernization as the way forward for the developing world. In this second period, mass housing was defined by a central tension: the promotion of modernist housing complexes versus self-help housing—a process in which residents build their own homes with limited assistance from the state. By the 1970s, the balance had shifted from modernist projects to self-help housing, a development powerfully demonstrated by the 1976 United Nations (UN) Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I). This seminal UN forum marked a transitional moment when the concepts of self-help community development were formally adopted by emergent, neo-liberal economists and international aid agencies.

Keywords: housing, architecture, urban history, public health, informal settlements, urban renewal, Alliance for Progress, 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Jacob Crane, John Turner

The City Center

The history of Latin American cities stretches across several centuries, forming multiple layers that grow more and more dense as we move closer to the present day.1 It is a region made of pre-Hispanic cities (Cusco, Peru, and Cholula, Mexico), preindustrial cities (Havana, Buenos Aires), postcolonial cities (São Paulo), postwar cities (Brasília and El Alto, Bolivia), and postmodern landscapes (Santa Fe, Mexico City). Throughout Latin America, the fleeting lives of powerful dictators and political regimes remains with us today in the massive mounds of concrete and steel that were molded into the architectural marvels of their time. The towering Ministry of Education and Health Building built under Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo, the deteriorating community centers in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco development, and the sprawling Alamar housing complex constructed under Fidel Castro are all examples of “iconic relics of a long-gone vision of what the future should look like.”2 Many of these monumental projects were constructed beyond the city center in a period when rapid population growth functioned as an engine for spatial fragmentation and decentralization.

Today, the areas that we refer to as el centro (the city center) or el centro historico (the historic center) were simply known as “the city” until the end of the 19th century. In cities such as Lima, Havana, Mexico City, Bogotá, and Buenos Aires, life was centered around the main plaza—the Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Armas, and the Plaza de Mayo. The plaza and the church stood at the heart of the city, a legacy from city planning ordinances decreed by the Spanish crown in 1573. King Philip II established a model for the Spain’s colonial cities that consisted of a central plaza and a geometric grid pattern that radiated outward to the residential quarters. This model, similar to the urban centers established in Caribbean colonies, was replicated in Mexico and down through the Andes.

Although social and spatial divisions could be identified and mapped out in the 18th and 19th centuries, the wealthy and poor lived relatively close to one another, separated by only a few city blocks, or in some cases, simply by a floor within the same building.3 However, in the late 19th century the fear of public health epidemics, the advent of the automobile, and the prospects of new homes in bucolic surroundings lured the upper class away from their colonial mansions. In Buenos Aires the wealthy moved northward (Barrio Norte); in Mexico City they built new mansions that featured neo-classical or Beaux-Arts designs along the Paseo de la Reforma; and in Rio de Janeiro a series of public works projects opened up beachfront properties to the south where the nation’s wealthiest families settled in the luxurious neighborhoods of Jardim Botânico and Copacabana.4

While the movement of the urban elite had varying consequences for each city’s respective housing stock, the centrality of public health and sanitation transcended national borders. Concerns over cholera epidemics, yellow fever, the common cough on the trolley, and green spaces for healthy play shaped city grids. Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro are two examples of how this shared paradigm was interpreted differently among local leaders. Rio de Janeiro represents a historical trend among other cities that implemented urban renewal projects to “cleanse the city,” while cities like Mexico City attempted to restore them to their former glory. Both cases represent a period when state officials closely linked personal hygiene in the home to the social behavior of the urban masses.

Beginning in the 1870s, Mexico City’s social geography was profoundly transformed by two crosscurrent migrations: the incoming migration of poor families streaming into the city from Mexico’s vast countryside, and, the outward movement of the capital’s elite families toward the more exclusive residential neighborhoods on the western edges of the city. In the wake of this exodus, the former mansions of Mexico’s wealthiest families were converted into one-room apartments (vecindades) for Mexico City’s poorest families.5 In addition, working-class districts such as Obrera, Morelos, and Guerrero began to encircle the city center from the north, east, and south, forming a crescent or “belt of misery” around the Zócalo square.6 Studies of these central-city tenements drew direct linkages between sanitary conditions, morality, and social behavior, most notably in Alberto Pani’s influential publication Hygiene in Mexico (1917).7 Although many of these studies downplayed structural and systemic causes of poverty, the living conditions in Mexico City’s slums were indeed appalling and a major cause for alarm.

Despite public investment into infrastructure and services, living conditions for Mexico City’s poor declined in the face of overcrowding and neglectful landlords. After the revolution (1910–1920) Mexico City grew at an astonishing rate, increasing from approximately 665,000 people in 1920 to three million in 1950. In terms of housing, roughly one-third of the population (993,000) lived in cramped tenements surrounding the central square. Of that nearly one million people, 400,000 were packed into one-room apartments.8 The capital began to witness the establishment of colonias proletarias (working-class settlements) such as Agrícola Oriental and Peralvillo in outlying areas; however, these were relatively small and remote.9

In midcentury Mexico City, the vecindad became the most visible symbol of the urban poor’s built-environment in the public imagination. Through films, songs, depictions in the press, and studies such as Oscar Lewis’s The Children of Sanchez (1961), the vecindad conjured images of squalor, criminality, hard luck, and crowded tenements overflowing with people spilling out on to the building’s balconies and courtyards.10 The vecindad provided the backdrop for urban melodramas during the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema (Nosotros los Pobres, 1948) and later on in the iconic El Chavo del Ocho television show.11 Surprisingly, the tenement districts that were viewed as centers of disease and vice were not demolished by urban renewal projects. Exceptions exist, but many areas were spared the wrecking ball, leading UNESCO to determine that, “the urban grid of the area continues to match the colonial model . . . it has been preserved in an exceptional model.”12 This aspect of Mexico City’s center remains understudied, but the role of historic preservationists, renters’ associations, and the open expanse of the city’s outlying areas were all factors that shaped a very different history when compared to Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro’s cortiços never reached the same scale as Mexico’s vecindades. As part of the same city that gave birth to the favela, it is not difficult to image why the history of the cortiços has been overshadowed by Latin America’s most visible symbol of poor housing. The cortiço has been described as “ramshackle tenements which . . . housed a quickly expanding proportion of freed persons, rural migrants, foreign immigrants, and slaves-for-hire.”13 The cortiços and casas de comodos only represented 5 percent of Rio’s housing stock at the beginning of the 20th century, and gradually decreased to 2.3 percent in 1920 and 0.3 percent by 1945.14 Small in absolute and relative numbers, the geographic centrality of the cortiços points to a rich history, although their destruction ultimately proved to be more important than their existence.

Leading up to the Second World War, public health was the main paradigm through which Rio de Janeiro’s urban landscape was studied, evaluated, and imagined by political figures, scientists, and engineers. Two extreme outbreaks of yellow fever in 1873 and 1876 collectively took over 10,000 lives. José Pereira Rego, the then president of the Board of Health (1864–1883), believed that the two main causes of the outbreaks were obstructions to the sewer system and the unsanitary conditions found in the city’s tenements. For Rio’s first prefect, the hygienist Cândido Barata Ribeiro, there was only one solution: mass demolition and slum clearance campaigns. Mayor Francisco Pereira Passos (1902–1906) ushered in an age of urban renewal through the construction of the Parisian-inspired Avenida Central (now Rio Branco).15 Dubbed the “Tropical Haussman,” Passos’s public works projects were responsible for the demolition of 3,000 buildings, employing a “knock-it-down” strategy that razed hundreds of cortiços to the ground.16

The destruction of the cortiço led to the birth of the favela. Although informal settlements would have eventually cropped up on Rio’s hillsides regardless of the center-city demolitions, the absence of accessible housing for the poor in the wake of slum clearance campaigns created the early conditions for Rio’s favelas. Historians point to the general destruction of cortiços, with a particular case of a group of destitute war veterans unable to secure housing, that led to the settlement of Morro da Favela (renamed Providência) at the end of the 1890s.17 The images of favelas were formed in relation to Rio’s belle époque and stigmatized as: spontaneous and filthy dwellings that fostered crime, laziness, promiscuity, and irrational beliefs and customs rooted in a primitive, African past. In the 1940s a member of the Rotary Club of Rio de Janeiro stated, “The dominant ethnic element in the favelas are the blacks. . . . The favelas of Rio as well as the mocambos of Recife are rare African survivals.”18

Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro developed along divergent paths from the late 19th century into the 1930s. Mexico City generally maintained a colonial-style center that did not experience massive urban renewal projects, had a low population density, few skyscrapers (Torre Latinoamericana is an exception), and was home to a majority of the city’s poor or working-class families who crowded into the central-city tenements.19 Alternatively, Rio implemented more slum clearance campaigns, elevated its skyline at an earlier stage, and possessed a small number of old tenements in the city center. Although exceptions can be cited for each case, it is a matter of degree that forms these two divergent paths. Similar cases can be found throughout the continent: Quito shared more similarities with Mexico City, while Caracas was more akin to Rio de Janeiro. That said, the distinctive qualities for each city also coexisted with several overarching themes or influences that bound the region’s cities together throughout the period. The centrality of public health and sanitation, the emulation of French culture expressed through city planning ideas and Beaux-Arts architecture, and the role of trade unions in rent strikes were all instrumental in the formation of several connective threads throughout the region.20 These connective threads were reinforced by a growing number of international conferences on housing in Latin America: International Congress of Urbanism (Buenos Aires, 1935), the Pan-American Congress of Popular Housing (Buenos Aires, 1939), and the Sixteenth International Conference on Planning and Housing (Mexico City, 1938).21

Recent scholarship on housing in the early 20th century has begun to examine urbanity through a relational framework in two important spheres. First, the long history of favelas in Rio de Janeiro and colonias proletarias in Mexico City (1920s) demonstrates that notions of proper housing were formed in relation to informal housing for much of the 20th century.22 Second, scholars have increasingly challenged the divisions created by the “center-periphery model” that formulates a universal definition for the “urban center” and the “rural periphery.” Instead, emergent metropolitan studies have sought to recast the development of the city and its hinterlands as interdependent processes that evolved over time.23 As Latin America’s cosmopolitan cities began to grow into mega-cities after the Second World War, peripheral urbanization challenged conventional notions of what defined “the city” and “the countryside.” The explosive growth of informal settlements presented new challenges for the region at a time when modernization theory and Cold War geopolitics converged into a powerful force that shaped Latin America’s urban landscape.

Housing in the Age of Development

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the breakdown of a tenuous alliance between global powers reasserted old rivalries and created new divisions around the world. Despite the intractable conflicts caused by the Cold War, the widespread belief in state-led modernization cut across political and ideological divides to form a powerful ethos in the postwar era. Intense political rivalries overshadowed a shared, global vision that emphasized the role of science, modern engineering, and technical expertise as a means for economic development. While anti-communist propaganda materialized as counter-insurgency, it also generated massive development projects that included worker cities, public transportation systems, and housing complexes (there is a housing development with the name “Kennedy” in practically every major city in Latin America).

Influential organizations such as the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) and federal housing agencies promoted large-scale housing developments built by the state that stressed uniformity, function, super blocks, hygiene, a separation between pedestrian walkways and car lanes, and the verticalization of buildings to allot more area for green spaces.”24 The application of high-modernism to urban planning found a receptive audience among in U.S. cities undergoing slum clearance campaigns, along with European cities recovering from the devastation wrought by the war. Planner and consultant Francis Violich envisioned the new urban expert as figure who needed, “to improve the cities of the hemisphere with the use of modern technology, science, and the application of rational democratic planning.”25 Centrally administered housing was a new physical form through which the state could project a more visible presence in Latin American cities. This ideal contrasted with the positions and programs held by many of the international aid agencies and intergovernmental organizations in the postwar era (United Nations, Inter-American Development Bank, USAID), that advocated for “aided self-help housing” or “sites-and-services” programs.26 To varying degrees, this form of “minimum urbanization” was mainly dependent on the labor of the residents to build their own homes, accompanied with the state’s provision of property titles and basic services such as running water and electricity. After the Second World War, Latin America emerged as the vanguard of aided self-help housing. Its two main epicenters were Puerto Rico and Colombia.

Puerto Rico was a pioneer in aided self-help housing. In the midst of the Great Depression, it was the first place to adopt aided self-help as part of its official housing policy in 1939. That policy was the product of the island being turned into a laboratory for mass housing by transnational forces. As a colony of the United States, Puerto Rico had access to federal funds allotted by New Deal programs such as the U.S. Housing Act of 1937.27 Puerto Rican agencies began to provide land plots and basic services for rural and urban housing in Ponce, and by 1960, officials could boast of the creation of 10,000 “owner-builder” units.28 However, no one did more to promote Puerto Rico as a model for housing in the underdeveloped world than U.S. planner Jacob Crane. As the director of the international office of the U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency (1947–1953), Crane traveled the world to persuade national governments and housing institutes to adopt and implement aided self-help housing programs (a term he coined in the mid-1940s).29 As early as 1951, Crane pushed back against the tendency for Latin American governments to create conventional public housing programs, and instead, identified the most crucial resource as being, “the hard labor of many a home-seeker’s own hands.”30 Although Crane’s ideas were largely confined to housing conferences and nominal resolutions, he played an instrumental role in the creation of the most important Latin American institute for housing in the postwar era—the Centro Interamericano de Vivienda y Planeamiento (CINVA), or Inter-American Housing and Planning Center, in Bogotá, Colombia.

CINVA was established in 1951 by the Organization of American States (OAS) under the aegis of the OAS general secretary and future Colombian president Alberto Lleras Camargo. The center was located on Bogotá’s Universidad Nacional campus where, between 1951 and 1973, CINVA trained over 1,200 students from across Latin America in city planning, urban theory, architecture, design, and community organizing.31 During the 1950s the institute was a site for cutting-edge research and experimentation in both rural and urban housing. The program stressed community participation and mutual-aid, out which came the CINVA-RAM—a simple, low-cost machine that could produce homemade bricks through a mixture of dirt and pieces of cement.32 While this intellectual ferment subsided in the 1960s, it remained a space where new ideas in the social sciences (particularly marginality and dependency theories) were combined with self-help housing concepts (autoconstrucción). Projects were carried out by students with the participation of community members in the slums of Lima, Cali (Siloé), Bogotá (Bello Horizonte, Las Colinas).33

For Latin America, Colombia was quite exceptional in its openness to forms of self-help housing, reflected in the fact that its main housing institute (ICT) devoted between 30 percent and 40 percent of its funding and credit toward aided self-help housing.34 In an era of unprecedented urbanization, CINVA functioned as a nerve center for a new generation of Latin American urban planners and architects that would have reverberations across the continent as alumni returned back home to Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, and everywhere in between. Its influence in the developing world was only paralleled by Turkey’s Middle East High Institute of Technology, the brain child of global housing expert Charles Abrams.

Charles Abrams rose to prominence as an advocate for fair and racially inclusive housing in New York City before working as an advisor for USAID and the United Nations. His collaborative work with Ernest Weissmann, the head of various incarnations of the UN Housing Division (1951–1966), culminated in the publication of Man’s Struggle for Shelter in an Urbanizing World (1964)—an instant classic that made Abrams widely regarded as the foremost authority on housing in the Third World. The book drew from various UN missions in Ghana, Pakistan, Singapore, Puerto Rico, and Bolivia to highlight aided self-help housing as a viable option for countries around the world.35 The simultaneous publication of Abrams’s work and the UN Manual for Self-Help Housing (1964) marked a nodal point in the formalization of aided self-help housing as a rational, effective, and democratic form of housing for the millions of poor city dwellers uprooted from the countryside in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Most fundamentally, both works offered a sober assessment of the limited resources in many of these countries, and recognized millions of people were already building their own homes and sought to “meet them halfway” through government programs that assisted in popular expressions of self-construction already in motion. The UN symbolically concentrated an acute contradiction of the period: its housing division passed resolutions in support of self-built housing schemes from the grand halls of the modernist UN headquarters, co-designed by “the master of modernism” himself Oscar Niemeyer.

Modernism, or high-modernism, found its own vernacular expressions in each Latin American country. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer embodied many of the contradictions bound up with modernism as both “a cause and a style.” Niemeyer was a life-long Marxist who designed homes for Brazil’s bourgeoisie; perfected the brazilian style within the CIAM International Style; and was dubbed “Tomorrow’s Traditionalist.” He fully realized his blend of socialist ideology and modernist design in the new capital city of Brasília.

Founded in 1960 on a desolate plateau, anthropologist James Holston described Brasília as “an exclamation mark on the horizon, like an idea, heroic and romantic, the acropolis of an enormous empty expanse.”36 Brasília became a symbol for the optimism and quixotic spirit of modernism, where one encounters “an entire city of detached rectangular boxes, the transparencies of a world of glass facades.”37 In an attempt to negate Brazil’s past, Niemeyer designed massive collective dwelling units on superblocks that stressed uniformity, monumentality, empty green spaces, and open glass facades. However, as residents began to settle into the government’s new projects, a fundamental flaw of Niemeyer’s designs emerged to the surface: his attempt to abolish the past and class difference also negated individuality and familiar social spaces, a radical rupture more traumatic than liberating when experienced by residents on an everyday basis. In addition, the absence of housing developments for the army of construction workers who built the city, and an influx of migrants from the drought-stricken states of northeastern Brazil, led to informal encampments and satellite cities that inevitably reproduced familiar forms of segregation that Niemeyer and planner Lúcio Costa sought to overcome.38

Brasília epitomized modernist housing in Latin America but did not define it. At the same time Brasília was being built, the Venezuelan government and the Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies were busy constructing a new, modern city in the jungles of Guayana. Venezuela’s Ciudad Guayana was envisioned as an industrial hub based on a totalizing, functionalist city plan that was intended to divert growth away from Caracas.39 As countries experimented with secondary cities, or “growth poles,” nearly every major city in the continent witnessed an alliance between national governments and modernist architects that transformed urban landscapes through massive housing projects that were imagined as “cities within the city.” The 23 de Enero housing complex was built in the heart of Caracas, representing a projection of power through modernist design. In Mexico City, the Tlatelolco complex housed 100,000 people in sleek high-rises built on top of former tenements (Guerrero), that were themselves built on top of pre-Hispanic ruins. Tlatelolco’s architect, Mario Pani, was responsible for multiple housing complexes (Unidad Independencia, Unidad Santa Fe) that combined residential units and social services for Mexico City’s public sector employees in what can be described as the built-environment of Mexico’s social welfare state.

Government-built housing complexes continued to redefine the skylines of Latin American cities well into the 1970s. While the anti-communist leader Juan Carlos Onganía was tearing down villas miserias to construct a housing complex intended to memorialize Argentina’s military dictatorship (Villa Lugano 1–2, 35,000 residents), communist leader Fidel Castro was busy overseeing the final stages of a Soviet-style housing development intended to forge Cuba’s “New Man” (Alamar, 100,000 residents). The simultaneity and similarity of these two developments in the early 1970s exemplifies the malleability of modernism, and alludes to deeper ideological commonalities between modernizing projects that were often overshadowed by larger Cold War conflicts.

The Alliance for Progress

The Cold War-era Alliance for Progress provides a fruitful focal point for understanding the tensions between modernist and self-help housing in Latin America. In the wake of the Cuban Revolution, President Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress as an economic assistance program for Latin America. Among agrarian reforms and education programs, low-cost housing was viewed as a tool for foreign policy, a bulwark against social unrest, and an opportunity to expand the region’s housing industry and further integrate it into the global economy.40 As one 1962 report for USAID revealed, “home ownership (e.g., savings and loans institutions, self-help programs, cooperatives) may stimulate investment that may not otherwise take place . . . poor housing may be a significant factor in matters of health, family, stability, moral values, and political unrest.”41 Hemispheric in scope, the Alliance for Progress allows for a comparative analysis of concrete policies and projects implemented in different cities during the 1960s.

Foreign aid for urban housing was primarily channeled to countries through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and USAID. In Mexico, direct U.S. assistance between 1961 and 1964 totaled 72 million dollars, 40 percent of which was allocated for low-cost housing.42 Of the forty-two different housing developments created under the program, all were built directly by the state or labor unions in a style that replicated previous modernist designs. Mexico’s Unidad Kennedy replaced the traditional street grid with superblocks, stressed vertical, high-density buildings to leave more surface area for green spaces, and was occupied by lower-middle-class union members.43 Rio de Janeiro’s experience was more mixed and diverse. Rio’s program was initially led by José Arthur Rios, who promoted aided self-help methods as a means to rehabilitate the city’s favelas. In 1962, José Arthur Rios was replaced and housing policies shifted toward slum clearance campaigns and state-built housing developments. Although these housing programs were more diverse than Brasília’s, the program moved in a direction of public agencies building identical house structure (“core housing”) in self-contained neighborhood units. Rio’s Vila Kennedy consisted of long rows of monotonous, single-family homes for displaced favela residents.44 A similar development occurred in Bogotá’s Ciudad Kennedy, except in Bogotá’s case, its residents were mostly drawn from the city’s incipient middle class.45 Chile went in the reverse direction. Despite the fact that Frei Motalva’s administration constructed an unprecedented 228,398 houses (123,009 of which were low-income) the administration fell short of its goals in each respective category by roughly 100,000 homes. Toward the end of Frei’s term, the government modified its plans and instituted [Operacion Sitio], a program where the government gave out plots of land for the poor to build their own homes.46 For the most part, Peru and Colombia were the only countries to implement comprehensive aided self-help programs in the 1960s, with some experimentation in Chile and Brazil.

The experience of the Alliance for Progress poses a sharp disjuncture for scholars. If the UN, USAID, and CINVA all endorsed aided self-help housing programs, then why did so many national governments decide to heavily invest in modernist housing developments and prefabricated homes? This contradiction remains relatively unexplored, and would need to incorporate local and national contexts into future studies. For Mexico, there were three essential factors. Modernist housing that combined social services and nationalist symbols (murals, mosaics, statues) was an effective tool for the ruling party (PRI) to consolidate political support among the urban middle class. This housing was geared toward, and appealed to, a sector of workers with salaried incomes, union membership, and who could qualify for home mortgage loans. Beyond the political and economic rationale for complexes like Tlatelolco and Unidad Kennedy, their aesthetic value functioned as a showcase for a new, modern Mexico in a way that a self-built settlement could never achieve. Across Latin America, Kennedy-era foreign aid for housing bolstered state institutions that promoted home ownership for the aspiring middle class.47 Historically, the early 1960s stands out as a moment when the nation-state reached its zenith as the most legitimate and natural conduit through which financial aid and technical expertise flowed throughout the Americas.

Slums of Hope

The genealogy of aided self-help housing can be traced back to two branches. The first consists of urban planners like Jacob Crane and Charles Abrams who were early advocates of self-built housing as an immediate, practical, and temporary solution to the housing problem in the developing world. The second branch is most commonly associated with John F. C. Turner, an English architect who found more lasting value in self-help housing as a product of freedom and autonomy. For Turner, freedom was “the opportunity to do for one’s self what one is able to do,” and in terms of popular housing, it was the power of residents to determine their own priorities in housing—not to have the design and construction of their households be decided by a government agency.48 He drew a distinction between a view that favored self-built housing as a positive use of the urban poor’s untapped labor (articulated by Crane), and instead, framed its fundamental value as the dweller being able to have control over the housing process. His work melded democratic idealism with common sense pragmatism. Turner became one of the most prominent critics of subsidized public housing in Latin America; he frequently attacked government-built housing as both authoritarian and a major drain on underdeveloped nations. As a young architect, Turner was influenced by Patrick Geddes and CINVA, but his theories were principally forged through his work in the shantytowns (barridas) that encircled Arequipa and Lima, Peru.

John Turner arrived to Arequipa, Peru, in 1957. His arrival coincided with a period when a small circle of radical intellectuals concerned with urbanization and informal settlements began to coalesce in Peru.49 This was a period when shantytowns proliferated on the desert outskirts of coastal cities, most famously exemplified by the 1954 “Christmas Eve Land Invasion” that established the Ciudad de Dios on Lima’s southern periphery. In this context, a small cadre of anthropologists began to challenge and reframe common perceptions of shantytowns and informal settlements in the developing world. In the early 1950s, José Matos Mar was the first person to carry out a comprehensive study of the shantytowns in Peru. His conclusions stirred controversy at the time: beneath the veneer of “spontaneous” and “primitive” shacks lied an organized network of mutual-aid societies that drew from communal practices developed throughout indigenous villages in the Andes.50 William Magin, another anthropologist and a friend of Turner’s, argued that Latin America’s squatter settlements were not the problem but the solution. Mangin’s seminal work in the 1960s posited that squatter settlements functioned as a safety-valve for migrants who were generally politically conservative, hard-working, family-oriented, and utilized their homes for economic mobility in ways that were not possible in the central-city slums.51

Turner’s call for “dweller control over the housing process” was challenged, tested, and refined through several pilot programs in Peru. In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that struck Arequipa in 1958, Turner channeled emergency aid and credit toward three sites that experimented with owner-builder methods of construction. Later in 1961, Turner helped negotiate a 22-million-dollar loan under the Alliance for Progress and led the aided self-help division of the program. While not directly involved, Turner’s work in Peru carried over into the UN-funded PREVI project (Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda/Experimental Housing Project) that assembled a blue-chip roster of avant-garde architects from around the globe.

The numbers of self-built homes that were actually constructed in Peru during this period fell woefully short of the projected goals (only 4,000 of the 17,350 self-help units were completed).52 Turner’s inability to move his pilot programs to massive undertakings had less to do with their designs and more to do with national politics. When Fernando Belaúnde Terry became president in 1963 he promptly shifted Peru’s housing policies toward large-scale housing developments, leaving aided self-help projects without necessary funding or support. When Belaúnde himself was removed from office by a military coup in 1968, the PREVI project established under Belaúnde was quickly sidelined by the Velasco regime (1968–1975).53 More broadly, the incremental nature of aided self-help housing is not conducive to realpolitik, it is a gradual process that rarely produces dramatic, tangible results within presidential term limits. Turner’s theories were forged in practice, yet his ideas would ultimately have a greater impact among key figures, albeit from diverse perspectives, who recognized the limitations of state-led modernization projects and were in search of alternatives. In the 1970s, the concepts of sites-and-services projects and self-construction were programmatically adopted by both the World Bank and UN-Habitat.

In retrospect, Havana’s Alamar housing complex and the Villa Lugano in Buenos Aires were modernist masterpieces that were inaugurated at the end of an era. The powerful images of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project demolition in St. Louis led architectural theorist Charles Jencks to famously declare, “Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15th, 1972, at 3:32 p.m.”54 Intended to be more provocative than precise, in the same spirit, it can be said that modernist architecture in the Third World died on June 11, 1976. The day marked the end of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat)—the largest international gathering held to discuss the problems of sheltering humanity on a global level.

Habitat I grew out of the famous UN Conference on the Environment of 1972 in Stockholm, and was part of a series of annual international conferences convened by the UN during the 1970s. Proposals for slum clearance and modernist housing projects that once dominated Pan-American housing conferences in Bogotá (1948) and Santiago (1959) were noticeably absent from the UN-Habitat’s resolutions.55 Individuals and multilateral organizations outlined an urban agenda that was characterized by community participation, self-construction, sites-and-services strategies, and a focus on political economy instead of technical expertise. As the keynote speaker of the parallel NGO forum, Turner reiterated his belief that state housing projects have been proven to be ineffective and were “a thing of the past.” In 1976, this sentiment was not radically new; however, a conference of such magnitude proved to be a watershed moment for urban planning and housing in Latin America, and the world more broadly. Not only did its discourse and resolutions signal a shift in the approach to housing in Latin America, it elevated housing as one of the most serious problems humanity faced at the end of the 20th century.

In the summer of 1976, representatives from over 130 countries and dozens of international organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF gathered in Vancouver for the UN-Habitat Conference. Speakers such as Margaret Mead, Barbara Ward, and Buckminster Fuller signified a growing consensus that new approaches were needed to confront a world where one-third of the entire urban population of the developing world lived in slums or squatter settlements. At a time when much of Latin America was under military dictatorships (Chile, Brazil, Argentina) or embroiled in rural insurgencies (El Salvador, Guatemala) Luis Echeverría used the UN-Habitat Conference as an international platform to project Mexico as a leading force for revolutionary change in the Third World. As a featured speaker in the open plenary, Mexico’s Echeverría stated, “The disruption of life in human settlements in peripheral areas has been caused by a system of domination . . . it is internal colonialism and unfair economic relations that condemn these peoples to unemployment and marginalization.”56 In addition to official delegates, the conference planning sessions were shaped by the leading urban sociologists working in Latin America at the time: Manuel Castells, Janice Pearlman, and Lisa Peattie. These intellectuals, combined with the parallel NGO forum, brought a radical edge to a conference led by official delegations and influential figures in the World Bank. While UN-Habitat’s significance lay in its discourse and ideological dimensions, it would be the World Bank’s adoption of aided self-help housing that had a greater impact on concrete polices and on-the-ground projects.

As strange as it may seem, the ideas developed by John Turner as a young anarchist in the shantytowns of Peru eventually found a receptive audience with Washington insider Robert McNamara. As president of the World Bank (1968–1981), McNamara diversified the bank’s focus to include urban settlements along with its primary concern of agrarian reform. The World Bank’s 1972 “Urbanization: Working Sector Paper” marked a turning point in the history of the World Bank, clearly signaling a move away from costly state-subsidized projects and toward the kind of sites-and-services approach advocated by John Turner. The working paper on urbanization provides a sober assessment of the housing in the global south: “Housing needs are being met to a large degree . . . by the rapid growth of squatter settlements. . . . At present income levels, it is impossible for most urban inhabitants to afford even minimum standards of conventional permanent housing.” The paper goes on to propose: “more emphasis on ‘site-and-services’ type schemes that provide urbanized land for self-help housing.”57

As the World Bank solidified its position as the largest development bank, its turn toward self-help housing had a direct impact on the massive projects it funded. In addition, the bank’s clearly defined ideological framework proved to have a major influence on national governments, aid agencies, micro-lending institutions, NGOs, and civil society organizations. John Turner emerged as a frequent collaborator, as well as one of the most vocal critics of the World Bank’s housing programs. Although both viewed state housing projects as bloated and burdensome, in contrast to Turner, the World Bank was more concerned with empowering the market than the people.

Discussion of the Literature

The scholarship on urban housing in Latin America has been multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging. Geographers concerned with spatial segregation, sociologists who work on urban social movements, historians who have examined urban planning practices, and anthropologists focused on domesticity and gender in urban settings have all contributed to the study of housing over the past several decades. However, an explicit focus on urban housing in Latin America among historians is best characterized as embryonic with auspicious beginnings. Given these limitations, it is necessary to discuss how scholarship on housing has intersected with broader themes in urban studies, as well as literature directly focused on the issue.

The foundation of Latin American urban history was built on the “grand biographies” of capital cities. Many of these works situated their narrative in a transitional moment when the urban citadel experienced rapid growth in population numbers, geographic size, and industrialization. James Scobie’s Buenos Aires: From Plaza to Suburb exemplifies this period within the historiography of Latin American cities.58 These ambitious and monumental works eventually gave way to projects of a more focused and fragmented nature, thus providing a series of works that would more closely resemble a mosaic than a sweeping landscape. Most notably, the public health campaigns carried out by early-20th-century city governments have generated a wide range of studies concerned with the interconnections between science, social control, hygiene, and housing. Works by Claudia Agostoni (Mexico) and Diego Armus (Argentina) detail how policy makers linked housing structures with social behavior.59 Beyond public health, historians who have worked on cosmopolitanism, immigration, architecture, and urban planning have included housing in their studies.60 Arturo Almandoz’s Planning Latin America’s Capital Cities, 1850–1950 remains the most comprehensive and accessible work on this period.61

In the 1960s, the balance between rural and urban populations in Latin America began to tilt toward cities. Social inequality and urban poverty became the province of sociologists and anthropologists. Leading scholars such as Gino Germani, Oscar Lewis, Manuel Castells, John Turner, Janice Pearlman, and Susan Eckstein all attempted to tackle “the urban question.”62 These studies tended to view informal housing as an extension of the informal work sector, stressed the socioeconomic background of residents, and utilized comparative methodologies to distinguish central-city tenements from the new shantytowns emerging along the periphery. In many cases, housing was viewed as part of a larger network of clientelistic relationships between the urban poor and political patrons. Shortcomings and flaws notwithstanding, this period of scholarship collected and synthesized a large body of data and first-hand observations that remain valuable to this day. Indeed, many of these scholars formulated critiques of government-built housing projects that were ahead of their time and influenced future generations of architects, planners, and political leaders.

Most recently, two important trends have emerged within the study of urban housing in Latin America. First, scholars from multiple disciplines have begun to examine struggles over housing through the lens of citizenship and democracy. Drawing from the work of anthropologist James Holston, the recent effervescence of literature on citizenship has highlighted how urban social movements have been crucial to the expansion of democracy at time of deepening inequalities. Many of the scholars working on this cutting-edge research have been brought together in a collection of essays entitled Cities from Scratch: Poverty and Informality in Urban Latin America.63 Second, the field has witnessed a surge in studies that have sought to situate urban centers as focal points for broader, transnational histories. For Latin America, historians have begun to explore how local histories of urban renewal, slum clearance, and modernist housing designs were shaped by transnational circuits that spanned across the Americas and the Atlantic. This emergent scholarship has been featured in the fascinating Making Cities Global: The Transnational Turn in Urban History compilation edited by A. K. Sandoval-Strausz and Nancy Kwak.64

Primary Sources

Scholars interested in urban housing in Latin America will find a wide range of underutilized and untapped primary resources in university libraries, architectural journals, personal archives, and archivo históricos in local, national, and international archive centers. For local city archives, most countries established a national housing institute that usually kept records of housing surveys, statistics, conferences, and correspondences between relevant individuals. Either stored in local or national archival centers, Peru’s Instituto de la Vivienda or Buenos Aires’s Instituto Municipal de la Vivienda are examples of housing institutes that maintained records and documents that could potentially form a strong foundation for research. Many of Latin America’s premier universities have architecture or urban planning departments that contain resources and documents on housing in their respective cities. The Lucio Costa Library in Rio de Janeiro’s Universidade Federal do Rio Janeiro and the Facultad de Arquitectura at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Mexico City’s UNAM offer collections that are focused and organized. UNAM has recently launched a digital project that has made Mexico’s most important architecture journals (Arquitectura México, Calli, Arquitectura y lo Demás) available to the public through a website called Raíces Digital.

The various international organizations or agencies tasked with solving Latin America’s housing problem have also left behind a tremendous number of documents and materials for researchers to utilize. Many of the documents on housing and urbanization produced by the Pan-American Union, and later the Organization of American States, can be found in OAS’s archives in Washington, DC, within the Columbus Memorial Library. For the Alliance for Progress and housing, the Teodoro Moscosco Papers at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston provide a great deal of insight into the discourse and debates that influenced the various agencies under the Alliance for Progress umbrella. This is also the case for the various housing divisions of the United Nations found in the UN’s Archives and Records Management Section. Finally, Cornell University’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections contain the personal papers of both Charles Abrams and Jacob Crane.

Further Reading

Aboy, Rosa. “The Right to a Home: Public Housing in Post-World War II Buenos Aires.” Journal of Urban History 33, no. 3 (2007): 493–518.Find this resource:

    Almandoz, Arturo. Planning Latin America’s Capital Cities, 1850–1950. London: Routledge, 2002.Find this resource:

      Armus, Diego. The Ailing City Health, Tuberculosis, and Culture in Buenos Aires, 1870–1950. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

        Agostoni, Claudia. Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876–1910. Calgary, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2003.Find this resource:

          Benmergui, Leandro. “The Alliance for Progress and Housing Policy in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires in the 1960s.” Urban History 36, no. 2 (2009): 303–326.Find this resource:

            Caldeira, Teresa P. R. “Peripheral Urbanization: Autoconstruction, Transversal Logics, and Politics in Cities of the Global South.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 35, no. 1 (2017): 3–20.Find this resource:

              De la Torre, Lidia. Buenos Aires: Del Conventillo a La Villa Miseria, 1869–1989. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial de la Universidad Católica Argentina, 2008.Find this resource:

                Fischer, Brodwyn. A Poverty of Rights: Citizenship and Inequality in Twentieth-Century Rio de Janeiro. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

                  Holston, James. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

                    Fraser, Valerie. Building the New World: Studies in the Modern Architecture of Latin America, 1930–1960. London: Verso, 2000.Find this resource:

                      Gyger, Helen, and Patricio del Real, eds. Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories. New York: Routledge, 2013.Find this resource:

                        Harris, Richard, and Godwin Arku. “Housing and Economic Development: The Evolution of an Idea Since 1945.” Habitat International 30, no. 4 (2006): 1007–1017.Find this resource:

                          Klaufus, Christien, and Arij Ouweneel, eds. Housing and Belonging in Latin America. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015.Find this resource:

                            Kwak, Nancy, and A. K. Sandoval-Strausz, eds. Making Cities Global: The Transnational Turn in Urban History. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                              Liernur, Jorge Francisco. Escritos de arquitectura del siglo 20 en América Latina. Granada, Spain: Fundación Rodríguez Acosta, 2003.Find this resource:

                                McCann, Bryan. Hard Times in the Marvelous City: From Dictatorship to Democracy in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Durham, NC.: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                  Murphy, Edward. For a Proper Home: Housing Rights in the Margins of Urban Chile, 1960–2010. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 2015.Find this resource:

                                    O’Rourke, Kathryn E. “Architecture in Mexico City, 1940–1980.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, July 2017.Find this resource:

                                      Perlman, Janice. Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                                        Salyers, Joshua. “Impoverished Spaces: Modernist Housing, Local Identity and the Vecindad in Tepito, 1940–1985.” Ph.D. diss., University of Arizona, 2017.Find this resource:

                                          Velasco, Alejandro. Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics and the Making of Modern Venezuela. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015.Find this resource:


                                            (1.) For broad, sweeping histories of cities in Latin American history, see Arturo Almandoz, Planning Latin America’s Capital Cities, 1850–1950 (London: Routledge, 2002); Richard Morse, “Colonial Latin America,” in The Urban Development of Colonial Spanish America, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 65–104; and José Luis Romero, Latinoamerica: las ciudades y las ideas (México: Siglo XXI Editores, 1984).

                                            (2.) Bruno Carvalho, “A Tale of Three Buildings,” Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America 9, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2010): 9.

                                            (3.) A detailed account of the compact nature of Mexico City in the colonial period can be found in Douglas R. Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660–1720 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994). See also James Scobie, Buenos Aires: Plaza to Suburb (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974).

                                            (4.) For changes in the social geography of these major cities, see John Lear, Workers, Neighbors, and Citizens: The Revolution in Mexico City (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001); Jeffrey Needell, A Tropical Belle Epoque: Elite Culture and Society in Turn-of-the-Century Rio de Janeiro (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987); and Scobie, Buenos Aires. For issues on public health from this period, see Diego Armus, The Ailing City: Health, Tuberculosis and Culture in Buenos Aires, 1870–1950 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); Macarena Ibarra, “Hygiene and Public Health in Santiago de Chile’s Urban Agenda, 1892–1927,” Planning Perspectives 31, no. 2 (September 2016), 181–203; and Claudia Agostoni, “Public Health in Mexico, 1870–1943,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, August 2016.

                                            (5.) See Lear, Workers, Neighbors, and Citizens, 15–49.

                                            (6.) Pablo Piccato, City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900–1931 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), 20–30.

                                            (7.) Alberto Pani, and Ernest L. de Gogorza, Hygiene in Mexico: A Study of Sanitary and Educational Problems (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1917).

                                            (8.) Statistics from, Bernard J. Frieden, “The Search for Housing Policy in Mexico City,” The Town Planning Review 36, no. 2 (July 1965): 76–78.

                                            (9.) Matthew Vitz, A City on a Lake: Urban Political Ecology and the Growth of Mexico City (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), 164–170.

                                            (10.) Oscar Lewis, The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family (New York: Random House, 1961).

                                            (11.) Ismael Rodríguez, Nosotros los Pobres. DVD. Directed by Ismael Rodríguez (Mexico City: Producciones Rodríguez Hermanos, 1948).

                                            (12.) Advisory Body Evaluation, “Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco,” UNESCO, 1987.

                                            (13.) Brodwyn Fischer, A Poverty of Rights: Citizenship and Inequality in Twentieth-Century Rio de Janeiro (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 33.

                                            (14.) Joel Outtes, “Urban Reforms and the Birth of City Planning in Rio de Janeiro and Recife (1904–1945)” (paper presented at XI Simposio de la Asociación Internacional de Planificación Urbana y Ambiente, La Plata, Argentina, September, 2014), 846.

                                            (15.) Fischer, Poverty of Rights, 35–39; and, “The Prevention of Yellow Fever in Brazil,” The British Medical Journal 2, no. 2296 (December 31, 1904), 1767.

                                            (17.) UN-Habitat, Global Report.

                                            (18.) Cited in Joel Outtes, “Disciplining Society through the City: The Genesis of City Planning in Brazil and Argentina (1894–1945),” Bulletin of Latin American Research 22, no. 2 (2003): 158.

                                            (19.) Diane Davis, Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994).

                                            (20.) Claudia Agostoni, Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876–1910 (Calgary, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2003); Diego Armus, The Ailing City: Health, Tuberculosis and Culture in Buenos Aires, 1870–1950 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); and Gilberto Hochman, The Sanitation of Brazil: Nation, State, and Public Health, 1889–1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017).

                                            (21.) Almandoz, Planning Latin America, 32.

                                            (22.) This work has been compiled in Brodwyn Fischer, Bryan McCann, and Javier Auyero, eds., Cities from Scratch: Poverty and Informality in Urban Latin America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014).

                                            (24.) See Eric Mumford, The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928–1960 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000). For more on urban renewal and housing in the United States and Europe, see Christopher Klemek, The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal: Postwar Urbanism from New York to Berlin (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012).

                                            (25.) Francis Violich, Low-Cost Housing in Latin America (Washington, DC: Pan American Union, 1949), 36–37.

                                            (26.) See M. Ijlal Muzaffar, “The Periphery Within: Modern Architecture and the Making of the Third World” (PhD diss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007), 39–42.

                                            (27.) Richard Harris, “The silence of the experts: ‘Aided self-help housing,’ 1939–1954,” Habitat International 22, no. 2 (June 1998): 167.

                                            (28.) World Planning and Housing Congress, and Gilbert R. Cabrera, Proceedings of the 1960 World Planning and Housing Congress (San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC: World Planning and Housing Congress, 1960), Introduction, no page.

                                            (29.) Richard Harris offers the most detailed account of Crane’s career in Harris, “The silence of the experts,” 165–189. For more background on Jacob Crane and Puerto Rico, see Nancy H. Kwak, A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015), 47–70; and Geoff Burrows, “Rural Hydro-Electrification and the Colonial New Deal: Modernization, Experts, and Rural Life in Puerto Rico, 1935–1942,” Agricultural History 91, no. 3 (Summer 2017): 293–319.

                                            (30.) Jacob Crane, and Edward T. Paxton, “The World Wide Housing Problem,” Town Planning Review 22, no. 1 (1951): 41.

                                            (31.) Martha Liliana Peña Rodriguez, “El Programa CINVA y la acción communal,” Revista Bitácora Urbano Territorial 12, no. 1 (January 2008): 187–188.

                                            (32.) Inter-American Housing and Planning Center, Cinva-RAM: Portable block making press (Bogotá, Colombia: Scientific and Documentation Exchange Service—Cinva, 1957).

                                            (33.) Rodriguez, “El Programa CINVA,” 187–188.

                                            (35.) A. Scott Henderson, Housing & the Democratic Ideal: The Life and Thought of Charles Abrams (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000); and Charles Abrams, Man’s Struggle for Shelter in an Urbanizing World (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964).

                                            (36.) James Holston, “The Spirit of Brasília: Modernity as Experiment and Risk,” in City/Art: The Urban Scene in Latin America, ed. Rebecca E. Biron (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 85.

                                            (37.) Holston, “Spirit of Brasília,” 85

                                            (38.) James Holston, The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Brasília (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000).

                                            (39.) Lisa Redfield Peattie, The View from the Barrio (Ann Harbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968); and more recently, Arturo Almandoz, “Towards Brasília and Ciudad Guayana. Development, Urbanization and Regional Planning in Latin America, 1940s–1960s,” Planning Perspectives 31, no. 1 (2016): 31–53.

                                            (40.) Michael Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and “Nation Building” in the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); and Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). For the Alliance for Progress, see Stephen G. Rabe, “Alliance for Progress,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, March 2016, and Leandro Benmergui, “The Alliance for Progress and Housing Policy in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires in the 1960s,” Urban History 36, no. 2 (August 2009): 303–326.

                                            (41.) “Report on Housing and Urban Development,” December 31, 1962, box 15, RG 207, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

                                            (42.) “Authorized Public Loans to Mexico,” September 3, 1964, RG 286, box 1, NARA.

                                            (43.) “FOVI: Relacion de Proyectos en Operacion,” December 1967, Fondo de Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Box 100, Exp. 101/000/1, Archivo General de la Nación (AGN).

                                            (44.) Leandro Daniel Benmergui, “Housing Development: Housing Policy, Slums, and Squatter Settlements in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1948–1973” (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 2012), 215.

                                            (45.) Offner, “Homeownership and Social Welfare,” 68–70.

                                            (47.) See Kwak, World of Homeowners, 131–140; and Offner, “Homeownership and Social Welfare,” 69.

                                            (48.) John F. C., Turner, interview by Roberto Chavez, World Bank, Washington, DC, September 11 2000, edited transcript. See also John F. C. Turner, “Housing as a Verb,” in Freedom to Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, ed. John F. C. Turner and Robert Fichter (New York: Macmillan, 1972), 149–175.

                                            (49.) Helen Elizabeth Gyger, “The Informal as a Project: Self-Help Housing in Peru, 1954–1986” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2013), 93.

                                            (50.) José Matos Mar, Las barriadas de Lima, 1957 (Lima, Peru: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1977).

                                            (51.) William Mangin, “Latin American Squatter Settlements: A Problem and a Solution,” Latin American Research Review 2, no. 3 (Summer 1967): 65–98.

                                            (52.) Gyger, “Informal as a Project,” 121–127.

                                            (53.) Justin McGuirk, Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture (London: Verso, 2014), 67–69. See also Sharif S. Kahatt, Utopías construidas: las unidades vecinales de Lima (Lima, Peru: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Fondo Editorial, 2015).

                                            (54.) Charles Jencks, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1977), 23.

                                            (55.) The Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements: From the report of Habitat, United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Vancouver, Canada, May 31 to June 11, 1976. For a comprehensive history of the various international UN conferences in this period, see Jocelyn Olcott, International Women’s Year: The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event in History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

                                            (56.) Luis Echeverria, “Address by Luis Echeverria Alvarez, President of Mexico, at the U.N. conference on human settlements,” Habitat International 1, no. 2 (1976): 114.

                                            (57.) World Bank, Urbanization Sector Working Sector (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1972), 5.

                                            (58.) James Scobie, Buenos Aires: From Plaza to Suburb (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974). For other examples, see José Luis Romero and Luis Alberto Romero, Buenos Aires, história de cuatro siglos (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editora Abril, 1983); and Richard Morse, From Community to Metropolis: A Biography of São Paulo, Brazil (New York: Octagon, 1974).

                                            (59.) Claudia Agostoni, Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876–1910 (Calgary, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2003); and Diego Armus, The Ailing City Health, Tuberculosis, and Culture in Buenos Aires, 1870–1950 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

                                            (60.) Jeffrey Needell, A Tropical Belle Époque Elite Culture and Society in Turn-of-the-Century Rio De Janeiro (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Mauricio Tenori-Trillo, I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); Jose C. Moya, Cousins and Strangers: Spanish Immigrants in Buenos Aires, 1850–1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); and Kathryn E. O’Rourke, Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016).

                                            (61.) Arturo Almandoz, Planning Latin America’s Capital Cities, 1850–1950 (London: Routledge, 2002).

                                            (62.) The list of works among these scholars is long and vast. For vital works, see Gino Germani, Urbanizacion, desarrollo y modernizacion: un enfoque historico y comparativo (Buenos Aires: Paidos, 1972); Manuel Castells, The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977); Janice Perlman, The Myth of Marginality: Urban Poverty and Politics in Rio de Janeiro (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976); and Susan Eckstein, The Poverty of Revolution: The State and the Urban Poor in Mexico (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977).

                                            (64.) Sandoval-Strausz and Kwak, Making Cities Global, 2017.