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Contentious Urbanization from Below: Land Squatting in Montevideo, Uruguay

Álvarez-Rivadulla, María José (2009) Contentious Urbanization from Below: Land Squatting in Montevideo, Uruguay. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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What explains the evolution and dynamics of land squatting in Montevideo, Uruguay? Over the last few decades squatter settlements have increased dramatically in this city that lacked a "frontier" of poor illegal settlements until the 1980s, with the exception of a handful of very precarious neighborhoods dubbed cantegriles that started appearing around the 1950s. Today, about 11 % of the city's population lives on illegally occupied land (INE 2006). The more than 400 current squatter settlements have expanded the city limits, leaving a very concrete trace of urban and social change. Squatter settlements mushroomed without natural disasters setting people in motion and without population growth due to rural to urban migration processes, frequent causes of land squatting elsewhere. Thus, both knowing how and why land squatting has developed constitute interesting puzzles. No one has yet written about the history of land squatting in Montevideo. This dissertation recovers this history from oblivion and puts it in dialog with the literature on popular politics. From a social movement/contentious politics perspective, in this dissertation I challenge the assumption that socioeconomic factors such as poverty were the only causes triggering land squatting. I test whether political factors also shaped the cycle of land invasions and examine the mechanisms through which those factors - known as political opportunities in the literature - translated into different types of mobilization. Through statistical analysis, in-depth interviews, document analysis, and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, this project will describe and explain the origins and trajectories of squatting as an elusive form of collective action during the last half of the 20th century (1947-2004). The project seeks to a) describe and explain the cycle of squatting and its timing; b) compare trajectories of different kinds of mobilization involved in land seizures and the mechanisms that activated them, and c) understand squatters' politics through a thick description of squatters' experiences and memories of their relationships with state agencies and politicians and through the experiences and memories of politicians, technocrats and bureaucrats as well.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Álvarez-Rivadulla, María José
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarkoff, Johnjm2@pitt.eduJM2
Committee MemberAuyero,
Committee MemberBleen, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberDoreian, Patrickpitpat@pitt.eduPITPAT
Date: 5 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 April 2009
Approval Date: 5 June 2009
Submission Date: 8 April 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: clientelism; collective action; contentious politics; ethnography; hardship; mobilization; multi-method research; neighborhood organization; political opportunities; poverty; protest events; social movements; squatters; third world cities; urban informality; urban sociology; Uruguay
Other ID:, etd-04082009-192033
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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