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Marco Garrido: The Patch-Work City


Peel 3487 Seminar Room, 3487 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W7, CA

What has neoliberal economic restructuring meant for urban experience? What has it meant, specifically, for the experience of class relations in cities of the Global South? A number of studies already focus on the plight of the urban poor or middle class under restructuring. It is not just the one or ther other group being transformed, however, but their relationship. It is their dynamic, not their individual situations, producing new urban spaces, social relations, and politics.

Marco Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a "patchwork" of classed spaces, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He then looks beyond urban fragmentation at its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity. They feel compelled to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of boundaries fosters a pervasive sense of discrimination. Thus we see class boundaries clarify along the housing divide and the urban poor and middle class emerge as class actors - not as labor and capital but as squatters and "villagers" (in Manila residential subdivisions are called villages). Garrido further examines the politicization of this divide in the case of the populist president Joseph Estrada. He shows the two sides drawn into contention not just over the right to the city but over the nature of democracy.

The Patchwork City illuminates how segregation, class relations, and democracy are connected and thus helps us make similar connecitons in other cases. It shows class as a social structure to be as indispensable to the study of Manila-and many other cities of the Global south-as race is to the study of American cities.

Marco Garrido is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

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