- Puerto Madero en movimiento: Un abordaje a partir de la circulación de la Corporación Antiguo Puerto Madero (1989-2017) by Guillermo Jajamovich
Few phenomena in the last decades have caught as much attention among scholars of Latin American urbanism as the proliferation of urban megaprojects. This should not be surprising, given that this particular urbanization strategy encompasses the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the interrelated processes of urban consolidation, liberalization of urban policy, and increased segregation and inequality that began to manifest in the region in the 1990s and continue up to today. Scholars of this phenomenon have noted how local governments–more autonomous and entrepreneurial than before–have enabled, fostered, and sanctioned these forms of development, adopting them as one of their preferred tools for governance and development, usually through public-private partnerships. Much of this attention has also been framed as critique that describes megaprojects as evidence of a market-centered approach to urban planning in which the needs of private actors, and the production of amenities for the consumption of middle and upper classes, take precedence over more inclusive and democratic ideas of how cities should be built and managed.
While much work has taken a political economy approach that characterizes megaprojects as a strategy through which local governments capture global capital that flows uni-directionally, Guillermo Jajamovich's Puerto Madero en Movimiento presents an alternative approach that brings together policy mobilities and planning history frameworks. As with other works applying the policy mobilities framework, the [End Page 288] book provides a relational understanding of policymaking that foregrounds the work of experts, architects, and urbanists who, along with private actors and city officials, make the circulation of policy ideas possible. With this approach, the author shows how complex networks of expertise, international collaboration, and policy boosterism make possible the development of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires and sustain the multidirectional circulation of Puerto Madero as a best practice. Indeed, Jajamovich's account is not limited to a detailed description of the development of the project–although many important elements are discussed–but instead provides a complex history of the Puerto Madero Corporation (CAPMSA), the entity behind the development of Puerto Madero, which eventually became an international urban consulting firm. Ultimately, by tracing the assemblage of experts, ideas, and mechanisms that made Puerto Madero possible, Jajamovich renders this megaproject not just as a built project fixed in space but also as a traveling planning idea shaped by its promoters' strategic positioning and by the opposition and resistance from a variety of actors that CAPMSA faced.
Jajamovich's argument is organized in the following way. The first chapter introduces the goals of the book, clearly laying out its general approach and overarching goals. This is followed by a very clear and succinct review of scholarship focused on the transfer and circulation of policies. In this chapter the author not only positions the policy mobilities framework in relation to other approaches (such as political science's policy transfer) but also draws attention to the limitations and critiques of this approach. Most notably, such critiques concern the relatively narrow focus on cases from the global North, the lack of historical context that often characterizes policy mobilities work, and the tendency of policy mobilities scholarship to downplay the role of the state and state actors. While Jajamovich is not alone in posing such critiques, this book goes beyond the critique and offers a rich case study that addresses said shortcomings. Indeed, in the following four chapters Jajamovich traces Puerto Madero across geographical and temporal scales in a way that allows the reader to see how, between 1989 and 2017, Puerto Madero became simultaneously a concrete project of urbanization and a form of expertise that is mobilized in cities across the region, including Mendoza, Santo Domingo, Guayaquil, and even beyond Latin America.
Chapter 3 examines the process through...