Migrant Vendors and Buses

Lima es una ciudad que parece estar en constante movimiento. Sus extensas calles vibran con masas de vehículos cuando los vendedores ambulantes se mueven dentro y fuera del tráfico para llamar a las descripciones de sus bienes, y una multitud apresurada de toda la variedad de la sociedad llena de autobuses y se abren paso en pequeñas camionetas. Al igual que su topografía y su movimiento interno cotidiano, la composición de Lima cambia constantemente a medida que los patrones de migración introducen nuevas poblaciones de una variedad de diferentes formas de desplazamiento, entre ellas: el desplazamiento político de los estados sudamericanos con un conflicto violento en curso como Venezuela, el desplazamiento económico de las zonas rurales y peruanas y el desplazamiento ambiental por inundaciones en algunas partes del país. En general, el movimiento de Lima coincide con sus experiencias con el desplazamiento: el desplazamiento de cuerpos en su horario de trabajo diario y el transporte, y el desplazamiento de grupos que migran y entran en el espacio de la ciudad. Al mismo tiempo, estos movimientos y desplazamientos funcionan a través de la estructura (ciudad, privado o de otro tipo) que constituye la “permanencia” urbana.

Este papel intenta comprender la transitoriedad urbana en Lima a través de cómo los vendedores de migrantes venezolanos, como sujetos transitorios, navegan a través de Lima a través de una variedad de medios desplazados y cómo las experiencias discontinuas e impermanentes de estos sujetos interactúan con entidades y espacios estructurados. Este tema de investigación combina las dos categorías de desplazamiento mencionadas anteriormente, tanto los movimientos topográficos de los espacios transitorios, como el movimiento sociológico de los patrones migratorios.

vendor

Para entender mejor estos componentes, me dirijo a las obras de dos expertos del movimiento en Lima, José Matos Mar y Claudia Bielich Salazar. En “El nuevo rostro urbano: la forja de una identidad” en su libro Desborde Popular y Crisis del Estado, Matos Mar describe el rápido ritmo de crecimiento de la población en el área metropolitana de Lima entre 1956 y 1984, que condujo a la expansión y desarrollo de la ciudad. Entre 1961 y 1983, la población urbana de Lima aumentó de 316,829 a 2,184,000 habitantes (Matos Mar 70), y hoy en día, la región tiene más de 9 millones de habitantes (World Population Review). Este increíble ritmo de crecimiento ha facilitado la posterior centralización de la ciudad mientras intenta incorporar nuevos barrios y asentamientos, especialmente en las extremidades norte y sur, o los “conos” (Matos, 72 de marzo). La expansión urbana en Lima también ha generado presión sobre el estado y la sociedad civil, ya que las instituciones democráticas luchan por representar a los nuevos migrantes en estas regiones además del crecimiento económico desigual (Ballon 33). Esta desigualdad es fácilmente visible en las diferencias entre los distritos urbanos de Lima, San Juan de Miraflores y Surco, el primero de los cuales tiene muchos residentes migrantes y está muy empobrecido.

La “invasión”, como se denomina la migración masiva en los años 80 (y que continúa hoy), fue causada por una combinación de factores sociales durante este período de tiempo. Primero, la violencia política general en el Perú fue instigada por Sendero Luminoso, un grupo mesiánico de izquierda que recurrió a las atrocidades para provocar una revolución general. El conflicto entre SL y las fuerzas armadas peruanas afectó a un gran número de comunidades agrícolas indígenas en la Sierra y presionó a estas poblaciones para que se reubicaran rápidamente en la seguridad ofrecida en grandes centros urbanos como Lima (Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación). En segundo lugar, además de este factor de empuje, Lima ofrecía empleos y servicios sociales que de otra manera eran escasos en otras partes del país. Por lo tanto, los inmigrantes indígenas pobres inundaron Lima, expandiendo su población muchas veces y alterando drásticamente el espacio de la ciudad. Como se mencionó anteriormente, los nuevos centros urbanos se desarrollaron en partes anteriormente no pobladas del área metropolitana de Lima, especialmente en los conos norte y sur, y los servicios urbanos centralizados se vieron obligados a expandirse a estos nuevos vecindarios. Junto con la expansión y el “estiramiento”, Lima fue testigo de sincretismo y combinación de aspectos de la cultura andina y amazónica entremezclados con la cultura criolla de la costa (Matos, 81 de marzo). Esta transmisión cultural constituyó una “nueva cultura importante adaptada al migrante, que transformó la vida de Lima”, pero junto a estas transmisiones, llegaron cambios materiales y sistémicos que dieron lugar a los cambios demográficos de Lima.

Matos Mar describe el “crecimiento inorgánico de los centros urbanos” y las “ineficiencias del sistema municipal y los servicios públicos” a través de materiales y espacios dentro del entorno urbano de Lima (Matos Mar 86). Un objeto / sistema particular que ofrece es el microbús de Lima, cuyas rutas serpentean a través de largas avenidas y caminos, “estrangulan a Lima con congestión” y cuyos sistemas regulatorios bizantinos e ineficientes personifican la escena de transporte caótico en la ciudad (Matos, marzo 87). En su descripción del microbús, Matos Mar continúa afirmando que el espacio abierto dentro de la ciudad ha disminuido, y las intersecciones concurridas los han reemplazado al mismo tiempo que las obras públicas y la justicia parecen haber fallado en el aumento de crecimiento. Frente a esta “nueva cara” de Lima, y ​​sus fallas en abordar los problemas económicos y de salud pública con las nuevas poblaciones de migrantes, las comunidades de migrantes han tomado la iniciativa de crear sus propias soluciones. Entre estas soluciones se enumeran los muchos sectores del trabajo informal que se han presentado ante un sector público débil (Matos, marzo, 91). Por ejemplo, los herbolarios y curanderos reemplazan a los médicos, las aulas de la comunidad migrante local reemplazan a las escuelas reguladas, y una amplia variedad de servicios y manufacturas ofrecen trabajo a los trabajadores migrantes sanos (aunque estas líneas de trabajo son a menudo peligrosas y pagan poco). El enfoque de este estudio, el vendedor ambulante, es un signo del tipo de trabajo informal que ha crecido fuera del desplazamiento y la necesidad de movilidad.

La hipermovilidad de Lima, generada por su rápida expansión de la población debido a la migración e industrialización y su correspondiente intento de incorporar nuevas comunidades y servicios para facilitar la función urbana, se entiende de muchas maneras a través de los modos de transporte urbano a través del espacio público. En su libro La Guerra del Centavo: Una Mirada Actual al Transporte Público en Lima Metropolitana, Claudia Bielich Salazar sostiene que el transporte es un determinante crucial de la movilidad organizada dentro de la ciudad. Para Salazar, la ciudad está organizada en una red de “nodos” que transfieren “flujos”, o corrientes de información y conocimiento a través del espacio (10). Estos nodos son importantes, ya que constituyen una estructura que es fundamental en la “función de las posibilidades de desplazamiento que cada individuo puede generar en el cotidiano, que organiza el espacio urbano” (Salazar 11). La movilidad, que Salazar conecta con el tránsito y el transporte, es una métrica de cuerpos y objetos desplazados por motivos laborales, formativos, sanitarios, sociales, culturales o de ocio, y su desarrollo dentro de la ciudad corresponde a la formación de nodos para facilitar los flujos de información y comprensión en una dialéctica con la propia estructura de la ciudad (Salazar 12). Estos son puntos teóricos particularmente cruciales, ya que pueden iluminar cómo ciertos sujetos (y objetos o tecnologías) interactúan con la estructura urbana a través de nodos funcionales diseñados en el espacio de la ciudad. Del mismo modo, a través del uso de “flujos” de Salazar, podemos comprender cómo los sujetos transitorios, en su situación y trabajo desplazados, pueden interactuar con estos nodos y estructuras dentro del espacio urbano en una dialéctica similar.

Combinando la representación de Matos Mar del desplazamiento activo y la movilidad de Lima, y ​​el posicionamiento teórico de la movilidad / fluidez de Salazar en una dialéctica con estructura / nodos, deseo centrar este estudio en los vendedores migrantes como sujetos transitorios que navegan a través del espacio urbano palpitante de Lima, Perú. . Específicamente, me enfoco en cómo los vendedores ambulantes de migrantes utilizan el caótico sistema de transporte de microbuses de Lima para atravesar la ciudad. Su movilidad personal se fusiona con estos modos y espacios de “flujo” para tejer dentro y fuera de los intersticios de la estructura, o como los llama Salazar, nodos. Recojo mi información para este argumento antropológico de tres meses de investigación etnográfica en Lima, Perú, en la cual seguí ampliamente las rutas de autobuses de Lima a través de la ciudad (particularmente a través de Lima Central, La Victoria, Miraflores, San Isidro, Pueblo Libre y San Miguel), y habló con los proveedores migrantes después de que publicitaron sus productos. Hice varias entrevistas con estos proveedores y registré sus ventas, así como las reacciones de los pasajeros de los autobuses. Además de las entrevistas y la observación sostenida, personalmente investigué la escena de la economía informal y la historia migratoria y de transporte de Lima.

Para comenzar a describir las experiencias transitorias de los vendedores migrantes en Lima, es importante ilustrar los espacios transitorios de movilidad en los que frecuentemente operan, el microbús. Los carriles de autobuses a lo largo de Lima son espacios curiosos, ya que están teóricamente arreglados; están delineados en mapas correspondientes de la ciudad y rara vez dejan estas líneas dibujadas, pero su movimiento a través de estas rutas es completamente móvil y caótico. El infame tráfico y la caótica movilidad de Lima se deben en gran parte a la privatización y desregulación del sistema de transporte de Lima en los años 80 y 90, que introdujeron una avalancha de vehículos no regulados en un juego competitivo de recolección de pasajeros. Con frecuencia, los pasajeros pueden presenciar una intensa carrera callejera entre dos autobuses en la misma línea (empleados por la misma compañía), mientras los conductores de cada vehículo se esfuerzan por vencer al otro en cada estación. En muchos sentidos, estos autobuses personifican la ilustración de Matos Mar de una ciudad que está saturada de desplazamientos, ya que deben asumir formas de gestión fluidas para cubrir un nicho de mercado producido tanto por la insuficiencia de los servicios públicos como por el crecimiento de la demanda de los consumidores migrantes. Para un transporte más amplio a partes en expansión de la ciudad. Dentro de estos autobuses, los pasajeros se compactan en un área pequeña, donde solo unos doce o más pueden sentarse, mientras que otros treinta o más se presionan unos contra otros mientras esperan desesperadamente el equilibrio en el centro del autobús. Ciudadanos de todas las profesiones e identidades esperan en grandes masas en las estaciones de autobuses dispersas por toda la ciudad, y entre estos pasajeros se encuentran frecuentemente personas migrantes, que se trasladan a Lima después de su desplazamiento político, económico o ambiental de su lugar de origen.

Muchos vendedores migrantes en Lima son refugiados de Venezuela, donde han sido desplazados por la inestabilidad política y / o económica y han viajado a través de Colombia y Ecuador para llegar a la ciudad. Su acento español es distinto de los hispanohablantes peruanos, y a menudo llevan colores venezolanos, azul, rojo y blanco, con estrellas acompañantes. Cuando el autobús pasa por una estación, los proveedores se suben al vehículo y reconocen al conductor y al cobrador (un asistente del conductor que pasa a los pasajeros y cobra el pasaje del autobús), los cuales asienten a cambio y permiten que el proveedor entre. Las edades de estos vendedores son variables. Mientras que la mayoría tiene entre treinta y cuarenta años, ocasionalmente hay niños que saltan por las escaleras del autobús, o hombres y mujeres de edad avanzada que suben lentamente los escalones, ayudados por el cobrador. En una observación, un niño de 8 o 9 años de edad entró en el autobús con ropa escolar y le pidió dinero para mantener su educación en Lima después de que su familia se mudara de Venezuela. Otro niño pequeño subió con su madre para tocar varias canciones en su flauta de madera antes de caminar a través de las filas de asientos para solicitar el pago. En otros momentos, los hombres mayores subían lentamente al autobús e inmediatamente se movían para pedir un cambio para apoyar a sus familias migrantes.

Los vendedores a menudo llevan bolsas grandes de artículos variados que suben al autobús, y contienen una gran variedad de productos, como maní, alfajores, chocolates, caramelos, bebidas, y artículos pequeños como plumas o llaveros. Obviamente, estos artículos se compraron previamente a granel en una tienda local y luego se vendieron a un precio más alto, pero los vendedores ofrecen conveniencia a medida que avanzan por el pasadizo del autobús lleno de gente, llamando la atención de los pasajeros con una mirada rápida o un gesto de asentimiento. Los productos revendidos personifican la economía informal en la que operan estos trabajadores migratorios, llenando un nicho de mercado de pasajeros hambrientos e impacientes a medida que se alejan horas del tránsito de sus autobuses. Los artículos son fáciles de transportar e intercambiar, lo que se suma a la movilidad del trabajo. A menudo, los vendedores ingresan en un autobús completamente silencioso y lleno de personas que miran por sus respectivas ventanas para desviar la vista, pero ocasionalmente, pueden solicitar a un par de pasajeros que compren uno o dos artículos y luego agradecer a la multitud de viajeros antes de saltar. El autobús en la siguiente estación.

Es fácil ignorar a estos proveedores como breves distracciones en un largo y monótono y largo viaje en autobús a través de Lima, pero por esta razón la paciencia de los proveedores es aún más importante de examinar. Como la mayoría de los proveedores que observé (aproximadamente el 80%) eran migrantes de Venezuela, su posición sociopolítica mejoró la transitoriedad de su trabajo. El trabajo transitorio atrae, o posiblemente necesite, sujetos transitorios que pueden aprovechar sus propias experiencias y redes fluidas para apoyar su rutina de trabajo igualmente fluida. Los vendedores a menudo ofrecen relatos de vida personal sobre su viaje migratorio y la familia y amigos que deben apoyar. Aunque no es el enfoque de este documento, estas narrativas ilustrarían un sentido de continuidad en sus vidas móviles y aparentemente discontinuas. El trabajo que los vendedores migrantes caerían se adaptó al estado de excepción en el que operaban, como ciudadanos legales de otro país, pero refugiados humanitarios en Lima. Sin visas de trabajo o de estudiante, sus actividades estaban restringidas y, con frecuencia, no podían acceder a muchas formas de beneficios sociales peruanos, como asistencia médica o apoyo laboral. Así, al igual que con muchos trabajadores peruanos nativos, la economía informal ofrecía un entorno transitorio en el que podían obtener ingresos (aunque pequeñas cantidades) y redes de apoyo que de otra manera no podrían ubicar.

Similar a la representación de Matos Mar de los flujos de transitoriedad que entran en el espacio de la ciudad de Lima y posteriormente modifican aspectos de la estructura de la ciudad para acomodar su fluidez, los trabajadores migrantes remodelan activamente la topografía de Lima de diversas maneras. Como se señaló anteriormente, sus casas, ubicadas en los márgenes norte y sur de la ciudad, ya alteran físicamente el diseño y la forma de la ciudad, pero estos “nodos”, o características estructurales, no son el único aspecto de Lima que se ha cambiado. Los trabajadores migrantes interactúan directamente con lo que Salazar llama “espacio de flujos”, o los intercambios que tienen lugar entre la estructura de la ciudad. Los autobuses que se reutilizan en mercados móviles para vendedores migrantes son un componente revelador de la transferencia e interconexión de la movilidad. Cuando los trabajadores migrantes saltan a los autobuses y declaran su presencia y sus productos, así como sus historias e identidades, transfieren información a través de estas redes de movilidad. Los autobuses, cuyas rutas variadas, maniobras caóticas y ritmo rápido definen gran parte del ritmo y la circulación de Lima, son elementos de transitoriedad que operan como flujos similares en el espacio de las carreteras. A diferencia de un sistema de autobuses públicos metropolitanos, del cual Lima tiene una línea corta singular que se limita a una carretera delgada a lo largo de una carretera prominente, las redes de autobuses privados en Lima no están confinadas y, a menudo, serpentean a lo largo de las carreteras e improvisan sus caminos para llegar a los pasajeros más rápido. Los autobuses, por supuesto, no son el único medio de movilidad de los vendedores a través de “espacios de flujos”; los vendedores con frecuencia empujan carros o jaulas de carga llenas de artículos de consumo comprados a granel. Los vendedores migrantes pueden llevar mochilas con marcas de corte especiales que les permiten expandir el paquete para que quepan más artículos, o adjuntar otra bolsa que se envuelva alrededor de su cuerpo.

En general, hay muchas tecnologías reutilizadas que facilitan un viaje más rápido o una movilidad más fácil, y todas estas técnicas demuestran que estos sujetos transitorios operarán con objetos transitorios y en espacios transitorios. Estas características asociadas de la transitoriedad comparten en discontinuidad: la historia de la vida discontinua, el artículo reutilizado en una economía informal, y el espacio móvil caótico. Todas estas características componen los “flujos” que se intersecan y se entrelazan dentro del espacio de la ciudad de Lima en una dialéctica con estructura y lógica “nodal”. Esta dialéctica muestra como la movilidad y la pausa, la discontinuidad y la continuidad para formar un ritmo que a menudo se toma para la “sangre vital” de la ciudad. Como me describió un entrevistado, “todo pasa muy rápido en Lima, la gente debería aprender a tomar las pausas para los versos a ellos mismos y también a todo lo que se necesita”. Sin embargo, en lugar de centrar la discusión de esta dialéctica en un entorno “urbano”, debemos recurrir a los flujos en sí mismos y cómo se hacen entender en la estructura de la ciudad.

 

 

Walls and de/territorialization

Lima is a city of walls. Walls which impose incredible lines of demarcation, drawn with the cement and stone that is erected throughout the city’s topography. They carve apart districts, properties, schools, roads, and recreational areas and shout to the passerby, “here is a separated land, here is a place where you cannot go”. When I walked along a road, la Avenida la Republica de Panama, there was only road. I glanced to my sides to catch sights of what is surrounding me, and I was enveloped by bright lights and dark spaces. The bright lights tempted me; they beckoned for me to peer inside and enter their warmth, but to do so, I would have had to cross through a gate and open a wrought iron door. The dark spaces are less inviting, yet their mysteriousness allures me. Perhaps the spaces are not truly dark, perhaps people have faint lights glimmering inside their rooms, or a shopkeeper is cleaning the floors under the florescent shimmer of a work lamp. Regardless, it is impossible to tell, as the iron door in front of these dark spaces are firmly shut, completing the circuit of concrete wall that surrounds the home/shop/restaurant.

IMG_3951Living in Miraflores/Surquillo, the walls in front of dark and bright spaces display how segmented this part of the city is. Fences carve through the district’s neighborhoods, as the beautiful colors and independent designs of houses are further separated by tall borders. Bright, or dark, the presumed residents behind these walls go through great lengths to protect their lands and possessions by employing increasingly terrifying methods of deterrence by constructing intimidating borders. Some residents purchase iron fences with sharp spear points on the top to deter robbers and passersbys from climbing above the wall. Other walls have malevolent hooks that provide an even greater threat to the miserable thief, crooked, fear-inducing shapes of violent iron that curve into a sharp blade. Still other walls are more inventive, with high velocity electrical cords wrapped around coils of barbed wire. However, deterrence can be accomplished through much less extravagant means. Several structures are surrounded by a basic concrete wall, rather thick, but seemingly innocuous. Above these walls, though, are shards of glass implanted into concrete adhesive, which viciously glimmer in the sunlight. With this extensive variety of walls displayed throughout Lima, it is easy to assume that the entire functionality of walls (what walls do) are for the “protection” and “security” of those who reside behind them. Why else would such malicious designs be incorporated into a relatively simple structure (the wall after all is one of the simplest of structures to design)? However, the question of “what walls do” is far more complex than to promote security.

In front of one dark property, I noticed that the door is slightly open. I peered inside, able to look past the thick walls that kept me at a distance. I saw that the yard appeaed overgrown with weeds breaking through the interstices of the stone path that winded its way further inwards. Overcome with curiosity, I pushed the door open and stepped into the yard to find that the entire property had been abandoned. The windows were shattered, the shards of glass scattered in front of the house’s façade. To my surprise, the front door was also slightly opened and I debated whether or not I should proceed into this part of the home as well. Before I could make my decision, a police car slowed down behind me and I quickly backed out of the yard and closed the door. Had the gate door been shut like the others I passed by while walking through the neighborhood I would have assumed the home behind the concrete walls was occupied, that people enjoyed the privacy of their well-guarded property. Instead, the structure housed the insects and animals that crossed through the ajar front door. In this description, it becomes more evident that walls are not simply designed to keep one-person docile outside, and another person safe inside, but that they have lasting impressions on the urban geography long after their designed “protective”, or “security” purpose has dissipated.

IMG_4320This can be observed in many parts of Lima, where concrete or brick walls remain while the structures behind these borders are demolished, fallen into disrepair, and abandoned. Directly in front of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and across a narrow bridge that extends over a busy highway below, there is an abandoned lot with scattered pieces of wooden planks, furniture, concrete blocks, and a cement platform. However, when passing along the sidewalk below the bridge, the everyday pedestrian would be shadowed by the towering, graffitied wall surrounding the lot, without any means to see the haphazardly discarded contents within. Similarly, as I was walking down a decline in Pueblo Libre, I was able to see above the neighborhood walls that aligned the streets. Between two homes I noticed an empty space with the ruins of what was once a brick structure. Whereas along the walls, the neighborhood appeared homogenous and structured, the barriers obscured what was, in reality, a heterogenous display of construction and disrepair. In light of these observations, what, then, do walls do? To begin to answer this, we may need to look at how walls are typically treated, as demarcations of property.

On the outskirts of Lima, there are many small farming communities that spot the desert environment. Between dunes of sand, one can find sprawling walls that circle around hundreds of tiny concrete homes. However, when I explored these communities in the winter months of April-May 2019, these communities were entirely abandoned. The walls surrounding rising from the desert were painted with political slogans from 2016 or earlier, the paint cracking under the intense Peruvian coastal heat, indicating that political candidates had recently noticed the potential in converting these unoccupied spaces into campaign flyers. The concrete homes, little larger than 80 square feet, had straw roofs, and several appeared to be caving in. Unable to find a spot a living person in the area, I was struck by the complete silence that permeated the community. As opposed to the United States, where it is quite common to find “abandoned”, or “empty” spaces with an accompanying sign that displays property ownership along the lines of “Private Property, do not enter”, this community’s only public announcement was the 2016 Peruvian general election painted onto the walls. Doubtless, as it was explained to me later, this space was indeed private property rented out to seasonal migrants who occupy this town when they are required to harvest the cyclical yield. Although it is obviously true that walls in this case delineate private property, I believe that this observation must be taken further.

Property, popularized in the liberal tradition by John Locke in the 17th century is more than contracts, laws, signatures, and courts, although these factors in property are nevertheless important. In liberalism, property is the product of labor and investment. As Locke argues, property results from the appropriation of labor into a medium to create ownership. An object, a piece of land, or a technique becomes one’s property because that person has devoted labor into appropriating. In fact, property ownership directly relates to what Locke defines as “self-ownership” as a natural right given to humankind, and from this ownership of one’s self, one is able to possess objects outside of themselves by devoting their actions to those objects. From this description it becomes evident that, in liberalism, property is an extension of the self into the objects that the person interacts with. These items carry the subject’s essence. In terms of land ownership, modern theories on property derive from a similar understanding of the utilization of land, although the naturalistic object of Locke’s property (picking acorns, harvesting food from one’s own garden, etc.) is far from the highly alienated and corporate forms of land utilization today. Although property is often spoken about in legalistic terms, at its core, the liberal tradition of property is a theory of self and the extension of the self. Land, understood in these terms, is made social through labor.

Properties such as the abandoned seasonal work community on the outskirts of Lima are territorialized by land developers and large corporate farms because they are organized into sites for production. However, the walls surrounding these farms are not simply the passive markers of this territorialization, they are essential in the prerequisite act of deterritoralization as well. Walls are commonly employed to claim property because they are crucial symbols for deconstructing former relations and extensions that existed in a space. The seemingly arbitrary erection of a border wall to separate two identical pieces of land isn’t only to establish a legalistic entity, but to tear up the previously existing entity. The present-day farming communities outside of Lima are likely very different from the agricultural properties that existed prior to their purchase by large ag-corporations. It is also likely that the previous farmers that possessed property claims constructed their own walls in different geographical forms in order to deterritorialize the ownership of previous farmers, and they as well erected walls to deterritorialize what they viewed as the “natural setting” before their labor was introduced. Of course, walls also territorialize by otherwise declaring that a place is associated with a certain jurisdiction that is recognized by the state and utilized by corporate entities (often the two are inseparable in modern neoliberalism). This process is far more widely understood by political scientists and diplomats, and has been utilized to generate modern political theory centered on the nation-state. It is this interplay, between deterritorialization and the subsequent (possibly simultaneous) territorialization that interests me the most, and it appears that walls are a perfect starting point to understanding this juncture.

Walls epitomize statist logic. They are attempts at establishing permanence and regulated order, yet they are entirely constructed and are often arbitrary despite theirIMG_3949 intended durability. In my paper, “Cavalry and castles: mobile and stationary frontiers in 7th-8th century Libya and Tunisia” (2020), I sought to describe how mobile cavalry military organization —modeled off of nomadic desert warfare— interacted with the stationary fortresses and coastal states in North Africa. Wherever the Byzantine patricians would lead their troops, their walls would soon follow, serving to deterritorialize their desert environment and the pre-existing local relationships among Berber communities, and to re-territorialize these spaces as imperial holdings. As the mobile Arab armies advanced through North Africa, these imperial settlements relied on their walls as the bastion of their statehood. Just as the state occupies and repurposes land/space into its national territory, and likewise manages its population in a similar manner, walls serve as a tool, a mechanism for this territorialization.

With this new understanding of walls, we can see how on the outskirts of Lima, as well as within the urban space itself, walls are indeed utilized for a variety of purposes. Security, and the maintenance of property are indeed clear intents for the concrete barriers that split apart the city, but these are only surface answers to a much more nuanced discussion about permanence, deterritorialization, territorialization, and the state. Although many walls in Lima protect only abandoned and “empty” lots, they do not lose their function in this regard because they nevertheless still reproduce the essence of stability that they are designed to uphold, and they fragment previous relations and extensions-of-the-self that existed before.

 

 

I feel transient

My decomposition.jpg

I feel transient. It’s likely that I have always felt this way, and it is only in the jaws of existential questions and issues that I feel fully how transient I am, but it is certainly true that right now, I do indeed, feel transient. Perhaps it is best to describe what transience is when I am describing it for myself (which isn’t an attempt to define transience in general, which is one of the seemingly impossible goals of this research project). I stake the claim that I FEEL AS IF I AM DISAPPEARING. My life is discontinuity, or is it continuity: where the only continuous thing is the cursed embrace of a bed mattress? Is my bed the only continuous strand that I can grasp?

I never realized how disabling pancreatitis could be before I arrived in Lima. When I first encountered the enraging disease six years ago, I handled the experience as any 15-year-old would, with paralyzing fear, followed by a subsequent blanket of relief when finally, at long last, I was released from my hospital bed and wheeled out into the sunlight in my wheelchair. I can still remember the joyous rays of sun that resurrected my sick body. It wasn’t the medicine, the opioids, or the extensive medical care from nurses and doctors that resurrected me, it was the sunlight, which told me that I was once again a part of this world. My days would no longer glide by unnoticeably as I stared at the white ceiling or walls, too drowsy with the opioids to even read a book. I slept my days away that week, even though I wasn’t tired. The only distinctive event that I could recognize were the random doctor’s/nurse’s visits that interrupted my solitude.

That hospital experience replaced all my memories of the extreme pain that pancreatitis brought with it. Yes, there was excruciating pain, but there were also white walls and hopelessness. No one knew what it was. No one knew if it would remain. No one knew how to treat it. We could only wait as my enzyme levels gradually decreased to a manageable level. It was the most painful thing I had ever experienced, but what shattered my world at that age, was just how much my experience could change in the face of this disease- just how much I could lose. When the doctor informed me that it was likely a freak event, a “one-in-a-million infection”, I truly felt rejuvenated. This illness wouldn’t conquer my life. I could return to familiarity and the continuity of family, classes, music etc.

Now, however, I have learned that that experience six years ago was a false glimmer of continuity. My life progressed for six years, day after day, teasing me with the expectation that the next day, and the next day, I would be myself and my world would be the same.

I had my second episode of pancreatitis two weeks after I arrived in Lima. I took the bus to the university in the morning, as per usual, but as I sat upon the bus seat, I suddenly felt as if I was impaled through my abdomen. Throughout that ride, I uncomfortably shifted in my seat, to the annoyance of the other packed passengers in the Micro as they waddled to be free from my squirming. At the university I attempted to eat, which only aggravated what I believed to be a stomach flu. Seeing no alternative at the time, I found a bench to lie down and wish away the pain. I stared at the blue sky and watched the clouds fly past. Ever so slightly, I became colder, as if the intense rays of sun of Lima’s midday could no longer penetrate through my skin. I could see the heat in the light, but I felt nothing save for the intensifying cold. I shivered and gasped and stared at the clouds and realized instantly, that my pancreatitis had returned.

sad jojoiv

The next few hours were lethargic torturers, as I was passed from the university clinic to an ambulance, to an emergency room, and finally, by nightfall, into a hospital room. I wish I could describe each experience as I could with my earlier realization that I had pancreatitis, but I had officially lost control of my life. I was whisked from a wheeled stretcher to a cold metal examination room, to an even colder wheelchair, and then to a frigid hospital bed. Doctors strapped my arms into blood pressure monitors and shoved thermometers into my mouth. They spoke above me to the university directors who had accompanied me, occasionally asking what level of pain I was experiencing. Writhing on the examination table, I shouted that it “fucking hurts”, forgetting briefly that I was being spoken to in Spanish. Upon hearing this, the doctors left for what seemed like an eternity. I gasped and moaned and punched my bed as I waited. I wanted nothing else but relief. Only release. I knew that the directors were concerned, but they didn’t know what else to do other than to soothe me as best as they could. Their conversations, their jokes, were the only things that kept me from collapsing into hysteria. Somehow, despite the raging inferno within my body, I could offer up a few quips and a hangman’s humor. The door flew open and doctors wheeled in an IV. They chose an arm and a vein to drive their needle. I waited in desperate anticipation as they attached a syringe of opioids and emptied the vial into my bloodstream. Release.

The rest of the week, I remember little more than white walls, white ceilings, white sheets, and hopelessness. Once more, the only indication I received of the passage of time were the intermittent visits by nurses, directors, hospital staff, and doctors. The minute I caught the slightest recognition of a lab coat and a familiar voice, another vial of painkillers was emptied into my body and I became docile once more, staring at the ceiling. When, after eight days, I was released, I was told that it was likely an autoimmune infection just like six years ago. It was simply more bad luck.

Although I spent the better part of another week recovering at home in Miraflores, I was convinced that I had been struck by lightning twice. I returned to my normal behaviors, discontinued my recommended diet, and remained active. There was little indication that anything had changed once more. The sun shined, and I felt it again. In less than a month, however, I returned to the emergency room. This time I packed my own luggage for my stay in the hospital. I ordered my own Uber and checked myself into the emergency room. An issue with the insurance company condemned me to wait for an hour, slowly deteriorating in health before I could be attended to, but once I was inside through the emergency room doors the entire process repeated: blood pressure monitors, thermometers, cold examination tables, even colder wheelchairs. I accepted it. Hopelessness for another week, I believed. Then the sunlight. But this time wasn’t like the last. When I left the hospital that second time, I never felt healthy again.

hospital windows

Almost a month after my second emergency room visit, I cannot walk longer than a few kilometers. I spend half of my days in my bed, and the other half planning the most efficient route back to my bed. I cannot eat more than soup otherwise my abdomen erupts into new bouts of pain. Many mornings I wake up to great discomfort and have to debate whether I can survive the hour-long commute to the university. Each time it’s different. Sometimes I feel extremely heavy, as if my body will explode at any minute in a display of painful entropy. Other times, I feel weak enough to collapse onto the street, and when I finally arrive at a seat, I fall into its support and breathe heavily. Occasionally, I receive intense fevers, descending into cold shivers regardless of where I am. Honestly, everything feels cold. It may be just the gray Lima winter, but I haven’t felt sunlight in a while.

I am no longer synced to my body. It feels as if everyday is a new betrayal, as I lose “control” (or maybe I never had control over these things, and I am just realizing it) of a new function each week. Frequently, I feel like Camus’ Sisyphus, toiling away to push my boulder of pain off to another day, only to have it fall back the next day. This life feels arbitrary. It feels negatively chaotic, denying me health and choice, or at least the illusion of choice. Most noticeably, I feel as if my life has become a discontinuous array of experiences, as if I never left the hospital. I am at the mercy of enzymes. I am held captive in my own body. But once again, maybe this is how it has always been. There’s no mind/body, there is my existence, my being, and it has drastically changed. I am disabled.

For this reason, I say that I am transient. My body, my being, is noticeably transient as it withers away each day with no end in sight. It is decomposition. Unlike the healthy person, who experiences with permanence, I am all too aware of my impermanence. How quickly I can be sent back into a hospital, how arbitrarily I can be whisked away from my classes, from my friends. A telling sign of this difference is how I spend most of my nights wondering how my tomorrow will change. A healthy person would stay awake thinking about how to improve their yesterday and their today. My yesterday and my today are independent events that could become an absurdist reality. I look in my mirror and I don’t see who I used to be. I am far skinnier. I can see my bones. Dark circles under my eyes betray just how impossible it is to sleep when my pancreas jolts me awake with pain in the middle of the night. No one knows what is causing my pain, and this discontinuity makes me transient. No one seems to understand how long this malady has affected me and to what extent, and this discontinuity makes me transient. My absurdity doesn’t fit into the schedules, the plans, the structures that give people’s lives permanence and so they leave me behind. They leave what they do not understand and what doesn’t fit into their narrative. And this discontinuity makes me transient.

Overflow and Breaking; Fluidity and Structure in Migration

Overflow:

Overflow Finished

The image represents the interplay between mobility/fluidity, and structure in the urban city-space in respect to the formation of new migrant communities and how migration can break down, transcend, and reconstruct the general structure of the city. Direction, weight, and magnitude can be observed interacting with solid barriers and cells, as fluidity opposes and redesigns structure.

Specifically, this artwork is inspired by the division between San Juan de Miraflores and Santiago de Sucre, known infamously as the “Wall of Shame”. The structure of the wall— a common sight throughout Lima around wealthy properties, company lands, and university campuses— divides the city into segments by socioeconomic status and prestige. In the image, I used wood barriers to delineate and segment grey cells, enclosed by the wooden walls. These cells are scattered around the image, and represent the constructed space within the city by displaying small glimpses into the city’s structure. These cells are the buildings and streets that form the city’s topography, depicted as a grey space that signifies Lima’s grey cityscape and matches the surrounding walls. However, I chose to separate these grey city cells to present how the city itself is constructed and impermanent, despite how solid its structures appear. The cells are suspended in a mysterious purple background to depict how communities like Santiago de Sucre were manufactured and that Lima is constituted of similar impermanence.

Interweaving throughout the cells is a moving and twisting image of fluidity. This form represents migration, which, much like water, flows wherever it is pressured or where it must. I painted this blue migratory water in a way that displays intense force and direction as it grows, dissipates, and repeats throughout the cells. Its presence in several cells presents how migration coexists with the city structure, interacting in the same space much as how migrant groups occupy the same areas, and participate in the same markets as “original” residents in “original” structures. However, the force of migration isn’t simply contained in these cells. Fluidity emerges above the walls as represented by the ceramic mix. I mixed ceramica en frio, talco, y pegamento to create a texture that fully displays the weight and movement of migration beyond established structure. The texture is made to look like both foaming water from the raging rapid of moving populations, as well as the mountainous cerro surrounding Lima, where San Juan de Miraflores is located. On top of this texture are new structures, the small homes of migrants that appear to be both lodged into the mountains, as well as carried into place by the sheer force of the migratory path, which affords their current space. In this way, fluid migration interacts with preexisting structure and restructures the city through its force.

Breaking:

Breaking

This work was the original. It was inspired by the same ideas and was supposed to include homes on top of the talco mixture, but I became dissatisfied with how continuous the image was, and how it seemed as if fluidity/migration, as represented by the water-like figures, was uninterrupted. I desired more discontinuity and interaction between what could be clearly defined as “structure”, and the interweaving intersections of fluidity. As well, I was still experimenting with the talco mixture and produced a very brittle texture. As I was trying to redesign the work, the talco shattered and fell apart (the beginning of this process could be seen in the picture). As well, I accidentally destroyed the image as I was cutting it into discontinuous pieces. Rather than starting over completely, I reused many of the materials from this first attempt. Many of the cells in “Overflow” were cut from this work. As well, I salvaged the wood grid to make the new walls around the cells and the houses on the ceramic.

Overall, “Breaking” should be juxtaposed to “Overflow” as different ways in which fluidity and structure can interact. Force of transience, as in migration, can overwhelm the established structure and reform into something entirely new, redesigning the structure (even if this new design takes the form of the terribly poor migrant communities of San Juan de Miraflores). As well, this force can simply break the structure, collapse, and reemerge as a blend of the same materials.

The Wall of Shame: Class Segregation of Santiago de Sucre and San Juan de Miraflores

Divide: Pictures show Peru's ten-foot high Wall of Shame topped with razor wire which divides the rich and poor to stop the less well-off stealing from the wealthyThe wall of shame, a concrete barrier between the informal neighborhoods of San Juan de Miraflores, and the affluent residents of Santiago de Surco, is a frequently cited example of segregation along class lines in Latin American cities. It stands at three meters tall and is topped with rings of barbed wire, stretching over ten kilometers of mountainous terrain to separate the two sharply distinct communities. Santiago de Surco, to the west, boasts vast green spaces and large two-story homes with personal swimming pools. Community security guards patrol the streets and close the neighborhood’s gates at night; their outposts are spread out throughout the area. On the other side of the wall is the sprawling assortment of informal homes in San Juan de Miraflores (not to be confused with the district of Miraflores closer to the center of Lima, a very affluent part of the city). These homes, built into the “Cerro”—the mountainous regions surrounding central Lima, as has been discussed in earlier posts and represented in my artwork—are often constructed of spare wood and concrete, and topped with slabs of sheet metal.

Residences in San Juan de Miraflores lack the basic services that are readily supplied to their affluent neighbors on the other side of the wall. Most homes do not have electricity, and 9 out of 10 residences do not have access to the public water supply, or a connection to any drainage system (TECHO 2018). Those that live in S.J. de Miraflores must pay for water to be independently shipped into their neighborhoods via water trucks, often shoveling out ten times as much money as the wealthier residents of Santiago de Surco, who have public access to water (OXFAM 2014). Approximately 92% of those that live in Nueva Rinconda (a subdistrict in Santiago de Surco) “compra agua a los camiones cisterna”, and pay three soles for 100 liters of water, which is subsequently poured into large blue canisters for residents’ use (OXFAM 2014). Residents must sometimes wait for hours for the water trucks to arrive, as their “erratic (routes) up the steep dirt tracks of the ‘slum’” are often unpredictable (Mervin 2015). Residents then pour and carry this water into their homes, but must be careful to clean and sanitize all buckets and pitchers in order to avoid water borne diseases that are also carried in by the trucks.

Also lacking for many residents, are property deeds. Most residents have purchased plots of land informally from the technical “landowner”, but hold no property ownership, and cannot legally point to any documents that support their claim to remaining in the Cerro. From 1950 to 1980, the population of Peru’s Lima district has grown to over 9 million, most of whom are living in the “conos” to the north and south of the city’s center. At the same time, Lima’s “hierarchical order was maintained, in which the rich occupied the center of the city, surrounded by the middle class, with the lower class inhabiting the peripheries” (Boano and Desmaison 2016). Since the 1980s, internal migration to Lima has soared as many Peruvians from the country’s Sierra and Selva regions fled their rural homes in search of security and opportunity in the city. The severe economic downturn during the 80s, alongside terrorism and internal conflicts throughout the country, pushed millions to concentrate in the districts surrounding central Lima in what is known as “the invasion”. Simultaneously, upper- and middle-class residents also moved outside of the city, which they felt were becoming too crowded. Thus, the lands surrounding central Lima were split between affluent residents, and incoming migrants.

“This meant that social groups, which traditionally occupied distanced geographical spaces, now shared the same territory: both the upper and lower social classes mingled in the city’s peripheries. To quell a growing fear of their poorer neighbours, affluent new residents built gated communities with heavy security installations which prevent people living outside those areas to pass through them. It’s not just a matter of security – living within a gated community also confers social status. The walls deter and immobilise: they are an expression of power and control over the lives of others” (Boano and Desmaison 2016).

These conditions have generated the current situation at the wall of shame. In the next post, I will discuss what these walls, their power, and their relationship with space entail, and how social class can be understood in terms of permanence and transience in a spatial setting.

 

TECHO presents their first report on the human settlements of the district of San Juan, Peru

https://peru.oxfam.org/participa-nuestras-campanas-iguales/sara-el-muro-y-el-agua

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34451418

https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/078636-000-A/peru-wall-of-shame/

http://theconversation.com/limas-wall-of-shame-and-the-gated-communities-that-build-poverty-into-peru-53356

El Cerro y El Centro; Caos y Anomalia en Lima

Caos y Anomolia, Cerro y Centro

Las dos imagenes en contraposición representan lo que es una ciudad, una urbanización normal contra lo que se da en Lima, Perú, que es la invasión a la montaña como zona urbana; dando la anomalía de la vida cotidiana en un espacio anormal. El caos de Lima con su pobreza a llevado a la sobrepoblación a asentuarse en zonas peligrosas como son las montañas, los cerros. Se visualiza en el desorden de estos asentamientos improvisados que se volvieron parte de Lima, han sobrevivido al tiempo, volviendose parte de Lima sin que lo miremos dos veces.

Hemos usado como síntesis las ventanas de estas estructuras para representar a los mismos edificios y casas, destacando sus características de orden por un lado: verticales, planeadas, simétricas; contra el caos y desorden de la ubicación de las casas del cerro con sus respectivas ventanas, donde no tienen una lógica estricta, al igual que todas las construcciones de la zona.

También, hemos usado materiales diferentes para ambas imágenes. Las texturas de la imagen de la ciudad son inorgánicas, y hemos usado machinas para imprimir las ventanas en la madera. La madera es suave y ordenada, y el espacio entre las ventanas es igual. Las figuras de los edificios en la ciudad son claras. Por otro lado, la imagen de las casas en el cerro es desordenada. Los materiales son caóticos y incluyen pedazos de madera, papel, lija, y otras cosas ásperas. Primero, construye una obra con lija y papel, y las ventanas dibujadas con carbón. El uso de carbón significa que las ventanas/casas no son permanentes, porque las marcas del material pueden desaparecer fácilmente. Después, rompimos la imagen en pedazos y los pegue encima de una tableta de “chipwood”.

La imagen modela el caos y la anomalía en el espacio de la ciudad de Lima, y ​​decidimos realizar nuestro proyecto sobre áreas de vida al comparar el diseño del centro de la ciudad con las casas del cerro. Es entre el orden y el desorden, y cómo se desarrollan realmente las ciudades. La idea es comprender el espacio urbano y cómo la permanencia, la gestión y el orden, todo factor en las estructuras de las casas y las vidas de los residentes (representadas como ventanas).