Dissertation Abstracts

Residential Segregation in Puerto Madryn, Chubut (1991-2010) : Forms and effects of an accelerated urbanization in a mid-size city in Central Patagonia

Author: Sergio A Kaminker, sakaminker@gmail.com
Department: Instituto de Altos Estudios Sociales
University: Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina
Supervisor: Julio E. Vezub
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: Argentina

Keywords: Patagonia , Residential Segregation , Mid-size cities , Migration
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development , Migration


In Latin America, there has been a preeminence of studies of socio-economic residential segregation, where only few have tensioned and questioned the processes of urbanization and, even less, taken into account migration and race as an important gateway to understand residential segregation. In Argentina, most of these studies are centered in big metropolitan areas, so most of the mid-size cities were left behind as under-researched areas. This has effects not only on the academic field, but also on the design of public policies, because the fact is that the wide range of issues mid-size cities are facing in Argentina are dealt with solutions that were actually planned for big metropolitan areas. Puerto Madryn, a port city in Central Patagonia, has suffered an important demographic growth in the last forty years, which turned a small town of 6,000 people in the early 70’s into a mid-size city of more than 90,000 in the first decade of this century. This had important effects on the urban scenario, as the main social conflict in the last two decades was the housing deficit and the consequent struggle for the use and disposition of urban space. From common sense we tend to naturalize the relationship between migration and urbanization, as if demographic growth pressures generating all kinds of urban issues. However, migration or demographic growth are not the only variables that explain the forms that residential segregation acquires, especially since the city has suffered a process of mercantilization of its lands. We understand residential segregation as the process by which the population of a city locates in spaces of homogeneous social composition and seek to understand the principle forms it takes, from socio-economic variables, to ethnic and racist ones and how exclusion processes relate to the way urban space is constructed. In this perspective we acknowledge the legacy of de-colonial authors who show the way race has been undermined as a hierarchy variable in Latin America. We also argue with the classical Latin American perspectives that emphasize socio-economic variables in the process of residential segregation leaving behind migration variables. We want to comprehend the urban experience of residential segregation of population living in mid-size cities, where time and scale are very different from those in big metropolitan areas. The analysis of the moral and cognitive repertoires, of the relation and forms that urban space takes, make symbolic frontiers appear and recognize their material existence. Due to the nature of the research, we work with mixed methodologies, between quantitative and qualitative technics in a sort of triangulation. On one hand, we analyze residential segregation and the demographic growth through statistics tools and geographical informational systems (GIS). We use the last five national census to explain the demographic transformation. Then we use the micro-data at the minimum statistical level to comprehend the distribution of different variables, to build thematic maps and make spatial correlations and build segregation indexes. On the other hand, we use qualitative technics such as participatory observation, in-depth interviews and the analysis of documents. With such tools we aim to understand the experience, the practical and symbolic effects of residential segregation, to build the moral repertoires, and to rebuild the process of urbanization and the history of certain spaces of the city; all types of analysis that are unreachable with quantitative tools.

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