(Re)constructing Informality and “Doing Regularization” in the Conservation Zone of Mexico City

Planning Theory and Practice

Priscilla Connolly, Jill Wigle

This paper examines the introduction of land-use planning requirements into the regularization process of informal settlements in areas designated as “conservation land” in Mexico City. Since 1997, the government has increasingly deployed digital technologies to map and track informal settlement in conservation land in order to select those eligible for reclassification as “residential land use”: a prerequisite for other stages in the regularization process, including property titling, access to urban services and subsidised loans for home improvements. We argue that the incorporation of land use planning into the discursive and material enactments of regularization continues to reproduce the social class divisions behind the otherwise rather tenuous distinction between formal and informal urban development. Although presented as a technical concern by planners, regularization remains embedded in political processes and outcomes, a characteristic long recognised in the abundant literature on the subject. What is new is the geo-referencing of informality as part of land use planning, as this alters the dynamics of regularization processes, now involving the everyday planning practices of local government. This experience thus suggests the need for re-conceptualising informality as a form of selective spatial regulation and governance integral to the planning and urban development process.


Featured City: Mexico City, Mexico

Featured Country: Mexico

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