All CDDRL Publications Book Chapters Routledge

The Future of Latin American and Caribbean Cities: Urban Bias and Political Fragments in Place (chapter in forthcoming, The Routledge Handbook of Urban Studies in Latin America and the Caribbean)

In this chapter, I provide some reflections on the fragmentation of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) urban landscapes and some speculations about the future of urban bias and inequalities in the decades to come. Latin American and Caribbean societies will no longer be divided according to the classic urban/rural, industrial/agricultural, worker/peasant, capital city/periphery set of cross-cutting cleavages, but through their fragmentation within and between cities, and a hierarchy of place within urban spaces. Despite the colonial legacy, a “triumph” of middle-sized mestizo cities inherited from the colonial era, non-urban areas that are predominantly indigenous will remain increasingly critical to the planetary future. Non-urban areas will be critical due to the interaction of their original peoples with the remaining “wild” spaces in the hemisphere. Rainforests, deserts, and mountains – that up till now had remained relatively untouched by human activity–, will need to be preserved as global public goods, reservoirs of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, climate, and hydrologic regulation. The safekeepers of those natural resources will most likely have to be indigenous and Afro-descendant communities that live in the fringes that surround those wild areas. Indigenous communities will hence remain the custodians, safekeepers and buffers that may prevent cities from overtaking these precious remaining natural environments.