Collective action in the informal housing production. Recent land invasions in Buenos Aires peripherical areas

Francesca Ferlicca,

IUAV-Venice Institute of Architecture, Italy

Popular urbanization and irregular urbanization are considered equal in Latin America since the legal standards imposed on the formal production of residential space are extremely difficult to reach by lowincome sectors. Some studies have analysed the relations between informal settlements dwellers and state institutions. However, their dichotomous perspective classifies collective action as a result of autonomy or institutionalization, neglecting the more general effects of this interaction.

Since July 2020, about 30 attempts of land takings have been registered in Argentina in the Gran Buenos Aires and La Plata, concentrated mainly in the peri-urban edges of the metropolitan area. These land invasions – known in the local context as tomas de tierras – are configured as housing responses to the measures of isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic of the popular sectors that were excluded from the possibility of continuing to pay rent and that deal with situations of extreme labour and economic precariousness.

In this paper, I propose to analyse the collective action of an organized group in the recent process of occupation of a peri-urban land in Guernica, a locality in the municipality of Presidente Peron in the South of Buenos Aires metropolitan area, and their informal production of a residential neighbourhood -known in the anglophone literature as land invasions.

Moreover, I propose to build a more nuanced theoretical category that can replace the anglophone land invasion, deepening in the specificity of the Latin American urban context. Moreover, I propose to reconstruct the genesis and the process of land invasion and to analyse the interaction between the actors involved, among them the “land invaders”, the police, the local, provincial and national government, the land owners, universities, and grassroot organizations involved.