Transgressive urbanism : borderlands and urban informality of American cities along the Pan-American Highway

Suau, Cristian (2013) Transgressive urbanism : borderlands and urban informality of American cities along the Pan-American Highway. Creativity Game: Theory and Practice of Spatial Planning, 1 (1). pp. 61-68. ISSN 2350-3637 (

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Border conditions are connected to the establishment of socio-economic forces that rule the production and occupancy of every-day spaces in cities. How do these urban dynamics operate and interplay between international, regional and urban frontiers? Urban corridors, mega urban regions and city regions are emerging across national borders in Europe. The phenomena of border environments can be analysed through interurban (within the same city); trans-urban (between various cities) and trans-regional (between more regions, states or countries) levels. Whilst the attributes of natural boundaries are defined by the internal structure of enclosed territories, the artificial borders delineate a territory from the margins inwards. Man-made borderlands are understood as peripheral or edge voids vulnerable to processes of demographic shrinkage, political or economic abandonment or ecological dereliction. This study explores the ways in which political boundaries can be trespassed in order to develop subaltern forms of urbanism and edge conditions, mainly to the comparative study of border cities in the Americas, predominantly ruled by informal economies, and which are situated alongside the largest land-transport infrastructure on Earth called ‘Pan-American Highway’. This land transport corridor operates as a grand linear urbanism and constitutes the economical catalyst of emerging urban economies in scenarios of political regional integration (‘soft boundaries’) or fortification (demarcations).


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