Theses Doctoral

City Unplanning: The Techno-Political Economy of Privately-Financed Highways in Lima

Stiglich, Matteo

Since 2009 the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima has partnered with private corporations to deliver three highway projects worth US$1.5bn. This process follows a state-building strategy developed since the 1990s to allow different levels of government to deliver infrastructure projects with private finance. In Lima, the model has almost exclusively produced highways through a specific scheme that allows firms to submit unsolicited proposals. In this dissertation, I investigate how the availability of private finance transforms the political process and local planning outcomes. I argue that rather than being simply a solution for cash-strapped governments looking to invest in specific pieces of infrastructure, the introduction of private finance shapes what projects get built. Private finance not only transforms the implementation part of a two-step process: it has a deep impact on the planning phase itself by setting constraints on what can be done and to what ends. I call the specific mechanism by which private finance influences planning ‘unplanning.’ Here, the state is not simply retreating to let the private sector determine priorities. In other words, it is not abandoning planning, or simply not planning. Rather, it is being transformed in order to follow a proactive role in attracting investment, and to adapt planning to the needs of private capital. The dissertation goes beyond understandings of infrastructures as neutral conduits and into their techno-political nature in order to reveal how they reflect, reproduce and become both the conduit and the site of political conflicts between private capital, the state, and urban dwellers.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sclar, Elliott
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 23, 2019