restricted access Building Cities, Constructing Citizens: Sustainable Rural Cities in Chiapas, Mexico

This paper examines changes in socio-spatial practices that have resulted from the relocation of peasant and indigenous communities into Sustainable Rural Cities (SRCs) in Chiapas, Mexico. The SRC initiative aims to reduce poverty and inequality through the construction of housing in a “semi-urban environment” that offers services ranging from basic to complex. We analyze this initiative as an attempt to politically and materially reconstitute rural life in Chiapas in order to create governable spaces and submissive citizens. From this perspective, the government’s objectives can be seen as a move to dictate social and political practices through the construction of space and control over the means of production, resulting in an increasing dependency that reduces possibilities for self-organization. However, this process is also being contested, resulting in new patterns of semi-urban living that diverge significantly from the official vision.