Wood, Peter D. A. (2018). Assessing critical urban geopolitics in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. In Jonathan Rokem & Camillo Boano (Eds.), Urban geopolitics: Rethinking planning in contested cities (pp. 208-225, Chap 12). Abingdon, Oxon, UK, and New York: Routledge. 246 pp., $138.14 cloth (ISBN-13: 978-1138962668, ISBN-10: 113896266X) (eBook ISBN: 9781315659275)
Summary: The synthesis of critical and urban geopolitics contributes to a more holistic understanding of how power is constructed and exerted, especially when combined with examination of variance in opinion and ideology between authoritative and marginalized populations. This study employs Q methodology in examining the views of 30 Brazilian and Paraguayan urban-development stakeholders in Foz do Iguaçu, a city at the tri-border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, to determine whether top-down geopolitics is reciprocated outward from the city. Statements from semi-structured interviews, notes from economic development community meetings, news stories, academic journal articles, and a video lecture series comprised a concourse from which a Q sample of 36-statements was drawn covering issues of security, national/geopolitical-level concerns, commerce, municipal planning projects, regional planning/collaboration, and participation/representation planning. Three factors emerged: (1) local integration optimists, composed of both Brazilian and Paraguayan participants, who accept urban-controlled development and agree that urban trans-border unity is the best starting point for addressing geopolitical threats; (2) institutional sceptics, comprised of Brazilians only, who are cynical regarding cross-border cooperation (especially when advanced by politicians), which they view as apt to usher in organized crime, Islamic terrorists, and corrupt workers; and (3) nationalists (mainly Brazilians, but also including a Paraguayan), who regarded Mercosur (a South American trade bloc) as detrimental for growth and looked instead to Brazilian national development initiatives. The three groups share a favorable consensus toward small businesses and locally controlled commerce. The conclusion is reached that whereas terror, security, and fear can shape urban spaces, as has been found in prior research, urban spaces can also affect systems of security, fear, and power as well as the ways in which they are perceived.
Peter D A Wood <email@example.com> is a postdoctoral fellow in demography at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. His work focuses on migration, violence and political participation in Global South development projects. This chapter is drawn from his dissertation, Urban Development and Political Participation in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, Florida State University (Geography, 2016).