By Nadine Reis (El Colegio de México) & Michael Lukas (Universidad de Chile)
The concept of peripheral urbanization is receiving increased attention in global urban theory. Building mainly on Caldeira’s (2017) postcolonial approach, most authors relate the concept to autoconstruction, popular agency and informality, emphasizing people-led urbanization in the Global South. In this paper we argue that to reach its full analytical and political potential, it is necessary to expand the concept of peripheral urbanization through reconnecting it to its origins in Latin American dependency theory.
While postcolonial urbanism has significantly advanced urban theory, peripheral urbanization must also be conceptualized as embedded in the political economies of peripheral capitalism to grasp the full complexity of urbanization in the Global South. In this sense, we first reconnect peripheral urbanization to its origins in Latin American dependency theory, conceptualizing it as a form of dependent urbanization and presenting the key debates of the time. Second, we take up recent debates in international political economy and critical geography, identifying the (continued) super-exploitation of labour and neo-extractivism by Latin American dominated-dominant classes as key characteristics of peripheral capitalism in the age of financialization. Based on this, we draw out the ways in which the uneven but combined urbanization processes in Latin America are dialectically related to contemporary peripheral capitalism. We conclude with some reflections on recent advancements in decolonial urban theory, pointing out future directions of the conceptual development of peripheral urbanization.