Forum 2016 - Infrastructure Space - Detroit (Ruby Press)

127 126 of projects, as well as for management of projects after they have been com- pleted. This would be a much needed first step at including those so often excluded from the social contract, which ultimately might overturn those divisions premised on the simplistic binary distinction between the formal and informal city. Risk and Governance The term “risk” is often misunder- stood or overly simplified. As a matter of fact, it connotes three interrelated concepts: the presence of a hazard , a person’s vulnerability to that hazard, and his or her ability to cope with that hazard. Hazard in this case is usually considered to be of a physical nature, most often associated with a specific event and assessed in terms of its magnitude and frequency. Vulnerability may refer to a person’s health, soci- al position, economic status, age, or other attributes. Geographer Susan Cutter defines vulnerability, in par- ticular with regard to environmental hazards, as “the potential for loss.” 3 Reducing risk may mean mitigating hazards, but it may also mean les- sening vulnerabilities to those hazards, especially since some may not always be manageable. A person’s coping capacity can help offset these com- pounding effects, yet is frequently understudied. 4 The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defi- nes coping capacity as “the ability of people, organizations, and systems, using available skills and resources, to face and manage adverse conditions, emergencies, or disasters.” 5 It is here where social networks, community capacity, and support mechanisms intersect with the design of shared space and infrastructure. Furthermore, so-called “simple” ris- ks should be differentiated from “sys- temic” risks, which comprise multiple components and have the potential to paralyze an entire system. Systemic risk is essentially structural, inherent to the way a society is organized and is not necessarily reduced or mitigated by short-term measures. 6 In the case of Lima, the situation on the city’s outskirts is aggravated by the overlap- ping factors of poverty, the lack of ac- cess by the poor to the formal housing market that drives ad hoc settlement construction, not to mention a lack of available flat land. An earthquake in Lima would cause significantly more damage than in a region with similar topography but with a different type of urban development due to the extent in which multiple hazards and vulnera- bilities are intertwined here. What exacerbates the vulnerabi- lities of the population living on the slopes and further complicates the methods to address these condi- tions can be partially attributed to the common characterization of where the “formal city” ends and the “infor- mal settlements” begin. The common oversimplification and often depoliti- cized understanding of terms such as “formal” and “informal” have given rise to alternative, counter urban theories of “subaltern” urbanism. 7 Such the- ories re-politicize this distinction by acknowledging the role of the state in creating, regulating, or perpetua- ting conditions of informality. Poverty scholar Ananya Roy has written about informality as a phenomenon that arises from calculated systems of de- regulation, in which the state creates its own exceptions to planning rules. 8 Informal city dwellers, in this view, live within what political geographer Oren Yiftachel has called the “grey zones” that exist between the formal and informal. 9 Informality is not a result of a lack of government per se; it is a di- rect outcome of the power of the state to enact “states of exception.” This predicament, again, is not unique to Lima, yet the unimpeded urban growth along its slopes quintessentially embodies the complexity of systemic risks within a landscape of fluctuating and politically charged interventions. Lima: Non-Binary Urban Growth Lima provides a telling case study of how conditions can emerge from a shifting and non-binary set of relati- onships between a people and the state. The city’s barriadas (as they were referred to in the 1950s) and pueblos jovenes (as they were refer- red to in the 1960s and 1970s) are far from manifesting a homogenous mass of unregulated shantytowns and actually offer a prime example of what can be accomplished when various levels of government interact in the pursuit of more inclusive social and spatial policies. In response to the rapid informal growth of the city during the 1950s, Lima passed a law in 1961 (the Law of Marginal Settlements and Popular Neighborhoods, or Barriadas Law) that recognized the legal status of the barriadas, while comprehensively integrating them into the city through physical upgrades. 10 Although pro- hibiting the construction of future barriadas, it created “popular neigh- borhoods,” setting aside relatively flat plots of land to be settled in a coordi- nated manner. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, these plots were progressively filled by well-organized resident groups. Syndicalism sha- ped the structure of the barriadas as they grew, leading to neighborhoods based on the tradition of communal work. In the 1970s, SINAMOS was formed, an organization dedicated to the study of the barriadas, which led to the construction of the innovative PREVI low-cost housing projects (Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda) by renowned international and Peruvi- an architects. With all due respect to such ef- forts, the availability of flat land has dwindled since the late 1970s and the state has withdrawn its support for upgrading and planning in ac- cordance with neoliberal economic restructuration of the country. 11 While the state greatly reduced its direct involvement in social housing, it no- netheless distributed large amounts of property titles through the Com- mission for the Official Registration of Informal Property in an attempt to develop a citywide real estate mar- ket and improve access to credit for low-income homeowners; the latter, however, with little success. 12 The