Ruralizing Urbanization: Credit, Housing, And Modernization In Colombia, 1920-1948

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My dissertation examines state-led housing projects, credit democratization programs and urban development policies in Colombia's two largest and most important cities, Bogotá and Medellín, from the 1920s through 1948. I focus on the political economy and everyday functioning of housing, credit, and urban development programs as a vantage point from which to understand how state makers-politicians, intellectuals, reformers, businessmen, local groups-dealt with this transformation. I argue that by putting urbanization's concrete, material changes and ensuing political challenges at the center of the analysis, "Ruralizing Urbanization" offers a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between state formation and economic and social modernization in Latin America. My focus on credit and housing reveals that the political relevance that urbanization and urban social issues gained by the late 1940s was the result of a process of state formation beginning in the 1920s. Back then, Colombian intellectuals, reformers, and economic officials did not equate modernization with urbanization or economic development with industrialization. The post-1945 developmentalist agreement around the precepts of modernization theory, which considered that being "modern" meant being urbanized and equated economic development with industrialization, resulted from a two-decade long process of re-negotiating modernization's meanings and reworking state practices at the local and national levels. "Ruralizing Urbanization" therefore re-periodizes the relationship between state formation and modernization by showing the historical significance of pre-World War II discussions and institutions, demonstrates the centrality of credit as a modernization tool, foregrounds intellectual and political debates developed by Colombians-not by international experts, foreign advisors, and other external actors whose roles have been exaggerated in much of the current historiography-, and highlights the intimate connection between urban and rural transformations (not only did reformers not separate urban and rural issues when discussing policies, but also the systemic relationship between cities and their hinterlands profoundly shaped modernization policies).

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Colombian history; Urbanization; Credit


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Union Local


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Craib,Raymond B.

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Byfield,Judith A.
Chang,Derek S.
Roldan,Mary J.

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Ph. D., History

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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