Conference on Latin American History 42
This panel presents several case studies from Latin America, recognizing the comparative challenges of expanding Latin American cities in the twentieth century while emphasizing the local factors that shaped the development of water infrastructure in each urban context. In particular, the presentations seek to emphasize the relationship of each city's waterscape to social and political issues, and how key points in the development of a particularly city’s water infrastructure shaped its subsequent course. Hillar Schwertner’s paper looks at competing priorities for water use along the arid U.S.-Mexican border between the cities of Tijuana and San Diego, demonstrating the interrelated nature of these two cities modern waterscapes. Sarah Hines, in her paper on water conflcits in the midsts of the Bolivian Revolution, shows the struggle between urban and rural interests throughout mid-century Bolivia--with redistribution of water rights to rural communities supplanting the needs of cities like Cochabamba. Douglas McRae presents on efforts in São Paulo to harness hydrological resources to supply the growing metropolis with adequate water. Decisions made to balance the needs of sanitation, hydroelectric and waste disposal had profound impacts on the city’s waterscape and urban environment. Finally, Stefania Gallini focuses further on the significance of water, wastewater, and urban rivers in a paper on the Bogotá River over the past century. Bogotá’s urban waterway suffered the fate of many urban rivers, yet its transformation and degradation reflected an alternate vision of Bogotá’s own claim to modernity within Colombia.
By emphasizing similarities while remaining attentive to local historical particularities, these papers speak to shared urban challenges in the face of water scarcity, aging infrastructure, global climate change, and the privatization of water supply and management.