Urban and Urbanization

Autorecovery and everyday disaster in Mexico City’s peripheries

This article is concerned with urbanization as it shapes and is shaped by disaster finance instruments. It takes a critical look at the specific urbanizing qualities of these instruments by bringing an established theory of peripheral urbanization together with recent work on disaster urbanization to advance a theory of ‘everyday disaster’—or smaller-scale events that occur repeatedly in the same areas, or events with extended recovery periods so prolonged that they integrate with the precarities of everyday life; and ‘autorecovery’—or recovery processes that self-organize and improvise in response to the uneven distribution of state resources. It grounds these theories in extended ethnographic work done in Mexico City. It argues that where localized everyday disasters are ongoing, they fall through the cracks of existing financing schemes because of ongoing scalar mismatches between instruments and actually existing disaster conditions. These mismatches are compounded by state neglect and facilitated by the disconnectedness that defines peripheries. As disaster governance in global Southern states is pushed to global markets through risk transfer instruments, failure to effectively insure everyday disasters expands spaces of precarity that reproduce peripheral processes. These forms of governance affect urban spatial configurations, not only through disaster itself, but through modes of repair like autorecovery.

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Volume 41 Issue 2

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