Demanding the Land

Urban Popular Movements in Peru and Ecuador, 1990-2005

Hardback or cased
Paul Dosh, James Lerager
Published 31 Aug 2010
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In the latter half of the twentieth century, millions of impoverished people all over Latin America participated in illegal seizures of urban land. As many cities became saturated with squatter settlements by the 1980s, it was expected that such invasions would wane. But the increased economic vulnerability and expansion of informal labor activity brought about by neoliberal government policies spurred yet more invasions. Their goals remained the same: reliable electricity, potable water, sewer drainage, and legal title to illegally acquired land. But changes in the economic and political context required different means for achieving these goals. Social safety nets were weakened, organized labor lost power, and some urban service monopolies were privatized—and the introduction of democratic municipal elections offered new avenues to secure these much-needed services. In this careful study of ten neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru, Paul Dosh examines these new patterns to cast light on the reasons why some neighborhood groups succeed and survive while others do not.


List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Photographs

List of Abbreviations



1. The Strategy, Success, and Survival of Urban Popular Movements

2. Metropolitan Trends in Land Invasions: Policy, Democratization, Geography

3. The Old Guard: Pragmatism and Strategic Rigidity

4. The Next Generation: Strategic Flexibility and a Sense of Entitlement

5. The Innovators: Strategic Creativity and a Sense of Mission

6. Analyzing Organizational Strategy, Success, and Survival

7. Conclusions: Contention, Political Process, and Mixed Motives

Epilogue: From Scholarship to Activism

Appendix: Sources of Data and List of Interviews