What kind of Global City? Circulating policies for ‘slum’ upgrading in the making of world-class Buenos Aires

Authors: Lucrecia Bertelli*, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Topics: Latin America
Keywords: policy mobility, worlding, assemblage urbanism, low-income settlements, Buenos Aires, Villa 31
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Buenos Aires, under the city administration of Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, has recently implemented an ambitious social and territorial integration project in Villa 31 and other informal settlements within the city. The mayor and his team have circulated the project in prestigious universities and urban forums while talking about Buenos Aires as ‘a global city’. When discussing the design of this integration initiative, the mayor referred to London’s Borough Market, New York’s High Line and Medellín’s Parque Biblioteca. This paper examines the role of policy circulation on the change in discourse and practice towards informal settlements in Buenos Aires, as well as its relation to the making of a world-class city. I argue that: (a) policy change has been the result of a complex assemblage of artifacts and individuals that mobilise successes, a process that is increasingly South-South; (b) the city government drew its inspiration from urban policies adopted by other cities, not only for the urbanisation project itself, but for approaches to internationalise the initiative; (c) Buenos Aires is using this project as an opportunity to world itself as an integrated city. By doing so, this research adds value to the policy mobility scholarship, since Latin American cities are not only worlding themselves through mega urban developments but also through the circulation of singular ‘world-class’ imaginaries.

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