Short Paper , , , ,

Revealing the networks behind ‘informal’ urbanization: an ethnography of cartographic practices

Rita Lambert
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
University College London

This paper develops a way of analyzing ‘the extensions of the extensions’, areas on the peripheral steep slopes of Lima- Peru, that keep growing beyond what is considered the edge of the metropolitan area. The occupation and construction of neighborhoods’ on the slopes is exposing an increasing number of the urban poor to hazardous living conditions. This urban phenomena has been significant in the last three decades in the Latin American region. In these areas, the practices of the State, land traffickers, disenfranchised peasant communities and those seeking a place to dwell in the city converge. This paper asks: how is it possible to research these processes and capture the amount of improvisation, experimentation and contestation shaping the relationships among all those involved? How to untangle actors and their practices and enable a transversal reading across them? To answer these questions, the paper focuses on cartography – the maps and plans used on the slopes of Lima. Through an ethnography of cartographic practices, it provides a novel methodology for bringing into view the processes, practices, alliances, and agency which are often invisible to policy makers, yet structure outcomes. In so doing, it offers analytical and methodological insights into contemporary urbanization processes across the Global South.