Creating the vilest places on Earth : public resource, crime and the social geography of Buenos Aires, 1880-1920
MetadataShow full item record
This Master’s Report explores how the social geography of Buenos Aires transformed between 1887 and 1910 and how these changes affected the city’s development. It argues that despite the state’s purported willingness to provide security and sanitation services to its citizenry, changing settlement patterns and expanding democratic participation led to the unequal distribution of public resources and the decay of neighborhoods in the south and west of the city. It argues that as public works removed inexpensive housing in the city’s downtown and transportation networks linked the city’s peripheries closer to the nucleus, members of the middle class and elites increasingly congregated in center and north of the city. Buenos Aires’ neighborhoods became segregated increasingly along class lines and patronage networks broke down. Members of the working class, now concentrated in their own neighborhoods, were unable gain the same resources. Inequality in the allocation of government benefits created clear physical and cultural barriers between rich and poor segments of the city. Unequal access to security forces played an especially important role in stigmatizing poor regions. While the police department vigilantly protected safety, private property and order in some parts of the city, they did not provide enough officers to complete the same tasks in others. Crime went unchecked in poorer regions. The municipal government published statistics and commentary on crime in the southern and western districts of the capital. This imagery cast the area’s residents as threats to public safety and sanitation that the state should control and maintain segregated rather than aid. By casting them as a threatening “other,” city officials denied inhabitants of poor neighborhoods’ future claims to public resources.