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The Messy Business of Ordering

The Impacts of Urban Redevelopment in Manizales, Colombia

Ashley R. Coles

June 2013, English

Modernist ideologies that dominate urban development strategies often rest upon the assumption that infrastructure and spatial design will result in social and economic ordering, but this narrow focus draws attention away from the underlying socio-economic context that is producing these problems in the first place. Living conditions, security, and resilience have deteriorated rather than improved as a result of a large-scale redevelopment project known as Macroproyecto San José. The results of this ethnographic study suggest that categorization and a focus on aesthetics have resulted in disorder rather than order, and that unless greater attention is paid to the broader socio-economic context, urban development projects such as this one threaten to worsen rather than improve living conditions for the intended beneficiaries.

Keywords: urban development, modernism, vulnerability, Colombia