Charting the 'Un-Owned:' Mapping Practices in Lima, Peru

Authors: Alexander Pustelnyk*, Syracuse University
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Property, land titling, informaility, mapping, housing, Latin America, Peru
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 1996, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori established the Commission for the Formalization of Informal Property (COFOPRI), a national agency for awarding formal land titles to the millions of informal settlers living across the country (Canturias & Delgado, 2004). Backed by a $36.1 billion dollar loan from the World Bank, COFOPRI awarded over 1.45 million land titles during its first six years in operation (World Bank, 2005). Due to the program’s ‘success,’ land titling slowly developed into a new development paradigm for achieving ‘secure land tenure’ for the world’s urban poor. According to Timothy Mitchell, Peru’s land titling program demonstrates economics “making its world” through the production of neoliberal knowledges about property, competition, and de-regulation (Mitchell 2005). To produce this knowledge, government agencies often utilize land maps “for collecting, sorting, and manipulating multiple levels of information” within this new ‘national economy’ (Mitchell 2002). Utilizing archival research, research interviews, and historical GIS analysis, this paper examines how various mapping practices have served to produce different knowledges about Lima’s urban land markets from the 1940s until today. By highlighting how planners geospatially represent both formal and informal property, this paper argues that the abstract boundaries that define formal property relations are not static, but rather, evolve relationally and in accordance with different understandings of the national economy (Blomley 2016). In this way, property mapping does not merely represent Lima; it produces what we can know about it.

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