Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Regna Darnell


The following dissertation explores the past 60 years of self-help housing in Lima. Specifically, it looks at the uneven development that has occurred in parts of a municipality called San Juan de Miraflores. I argue that self-help housing is part of a larger modernization project that aims to encourage the emergence of a self-regulating individual. Pro-development literature creates a selective history of marginal neighbourhoods, effectively silencing the histories of working class Miraflorinos. The aim of this ethnographic study is to destabilize official histories and representations about development in marginal communities. The bulk of the dissertation looks at the history of a land occupation that occurred in January, 2000. Special attention is given to insert the study in its political, economic, and social context. I conclude that the development process at work in Lima since the end of WWII reflects an unresolved tension in Peruvian urbanization. Common working class people resist the drive toward a progress that favours individual achievement over community well-being. I argue that underprivileged groups have always been included in development schemes. Social inclusion, then, is not the solution to uneven development. Rather, we need to look to the resistances to development that underprivileged classes mount, incorporating their criticisms into a new vision for society that challenges the merits of the kind of individuality promoted by liberal and neoliberal proponents.