- Modernization, Urbanization, and Development in Latin America, 1900s–2000s by Arturo Almandoz
In this volume Arturo Almandoz examines the “historical agenda of modernization, urbanization, and planning…” during the course of the 20th century in Latin America (p. xi). This is not an urban geography of Latin America, nor is it a history of urban planning in the region. It is rather, in the author’s words “an urban cultural history” set in the context of the intertwined processes of industrialization and urbanization, and modernization and development. Almandoz stakes out a broad historical, geographical, and intellectual agenda in this book and engages a vast bibliography of scholarly sources in history, sociology, architecture, urban planning, development theory, and economics, among others. The author also calls on popular literature integrating the work of Latin American novelists, poets, political commentators, and essayists to add content and depth to the presentation and analysis. Spanish and English language sources reckon most prominently here, but pertinent literature in Portuguese is also included.
The author’s definition of the Latin American region is straightforward and logical. He includes those countries south of the Rio Grande and those with an Iberian cultural heritage. Within this group, his focus falls principally on Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and Chile, with occasional references to Colombia, Peru, and Cuba. The experiences other Iberian countries remain in the background and non-Iberian traditions and literatures are not considered at all.
Divided into eight chapters, the book tracks a chronological approach. In the first chapter Latin America is defined, urban cultural history is examined, and the volume’s geographical scope and key historical episodes are delineated. Nineteenth century antecedents are the focus of the second chapter. The changes ushered in by political independence, the impact of European nations (notably Great Britain and France), and the conflicts between conservatives and liberals are examined here.
The book’s principal focus on the 20th century begins in the third chapter and it covers the first two decades of the century. Here the influence of the United States’ diplomatic policies and economic activities are explored, as well as the impact of the intellectual and cultural influences of Arielismo, Modernism, and the Belle Époque on the region’s urban cultural development. Country specific vignettes of the fledgling development of democratic processes and structures are included here. Discussions of the evolving urban agendas of those decades which centered on residential expansion, sanitary reforms, and [End Page 163] housing conclude the chapter. The rise of the welfare state and the transformation the region’s major cities into urban metropolises between 1920 and the end of World War II are detailed in the fourth chapter. In addition, it traces the rise of urbanismo as an academic and practical endeavor in Latin America and the international and domestic influences that shaped it there.
The region’s urban cultural history in the second half of the 20th century is chronicled in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. The imposition of import substitution policies and the development of incipient industrial sectors in the region’s largest economies characterized the two decades that followed the end of World War II. These developments as well as the increasing urbanization of most national systems are outlined in Chapter 5. The transformation of the urban landscapes of Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Havana, and Caracas are briefly examined as is a rising consciousness of not only urban planning, but also regional planning in Latin America. In Chapter 6, the Cold War, the Cuban Revolution, and the Alliance for Progress provide the context for the country specific sketches of the political and revolutionary struggles that wrenched Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Chile between the 1950s and 1970s. The limitations of the import substitution model to fully develop the region’s industrial sector are noted in this chapter as is the rising rate of rural to urban migration and the growth of...