Reading Development

Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo

“They Sold Us Illusions”: Informality, Redevelopment, and the Politics of Limpieza in the Dominican Republic

In the capital city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, climate change and environmental concerns are used to justify massive redevelopment projects in informal settlements located along the rivers Ozama and Isabela. Residents in such river communities negotiate the uncertainty of state planning under a new socio-environmentalism that prioritizes the environment over social concerns, while continuing to pursue bottom-up neighborhood planning despite the powerful rationality of limpieza (cleanliness), the pervasive techniques of responsibilization, and the celebratory spectacles of megaprojects. The uncertainty resulting from governance under socio-environmentalism produces ambivalence towards environmentcentered projects among residents. Drawing on oral histories and interviews with long-time community members, we suggest that residents engage in three ‘sensemaking strategies’ to process their ambivalence in the face of daily precarity, in particular the ongoing threat of evictions. Residents ‘keep up’ with the state and strategically utilize planning language to advocate for community priorities. They engage in practices of storytelling that reproduce a deep sense of community and provide a longer historical understanding of planning interventions. Finally, through verbal speculation and other ‘unsanctioned speech acts’ they analyze disruptions caused by socio-environmentalism, build solidarity with other communities, and think ahead despite uncertainty.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, 10 June 2021 by in Urban issues and tagged , , .

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