Haussmannization in the tropics: Abject urbanism and infrastructural violence in Nicaragua

Dennis Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers the underlying dynamics of the elite-oriented urban transformation that Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, has undergone during the past decade and a half. It begins by drawing a cross-historical comparison between Managua's metropolitan makeover and a paradigmatic case of planned urban change, that of 19th-century Parisian Haussmannization, in order to highlight the systemic and purposeful nature of the former's transformation from a top-down perspective. It then focuses ethnographically on the grassroots consequences of specific instances of infrastructural development that have affected two poor neighbourhoods in the city, providing a bottom-up view on the way that these have constituted the poor communities as 'pacified spaces', to the extent that their inhabitants can be said to have internalized a form of 'abject urbanism' that actively contributes to sustaining the unequal spatial order of the city. When seen from this perspective, the planned urban transformation of Managua emerges as a systemic form of violence mediated by the workings of infrastructure, a process that I suggest can be termed 'infrastructural violence'. © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permissions:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-438
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Haussmannization
  • infrastructure
  • Managua
  • Nicaragua
  • Paris
  • roads
  • urbanism
  • violence


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