Border urban intermediation in the Dominican Republic: three case studies

This study is comprised of seven chapters including a final part of conclusions. The First Chapter attempts to bring this topic into the current debate on the main aspects discussed by the thesis, vis-à-vis urban intermediation in border situations within the present stage of capitalist globalization. Besides proposing a functional conceptualization of globalization as a systemic phenomenon, the chapter addresses the less-known issue of the transborder spatial re-articulation (corridors, regions, and urban complexes). In general, it views the relativization and re-functionalization of the borders. A key aspect of this chapter is the critical discussion of the existing models in specialized studies in the United States and Europe, regarding the evolution of the borders. Also, the contraposition of an explanation to this development as fragmented and discontinued. Finally, the chapter discusses two key concepts for the rest of the study, which have been at the center of the theoretical conceptions of the NCCR/North-South and the LaSur/EPFL team, such as urban intermediation and social practices. Chapter II and III try to explain the historical/sociological context of the Haitian/Dominican border region, emphasizing the binational relationships marked by their asymmetry, uneven exchange, and subordination. Chapter II is crucial to understanding that many of the border's ideological traumas are rooted in the historical truth that it has always been a very uneven border, but whose balance of forces has reverted over time. At the same time, the border has been the axis of an ideological construction that reinforces both countries' roles in the division of the regional capitalist economy, as well as Haiti's role in terms of accumulation and political legitimation in the Dominican Republic. In particular, Chapter III discusses basic information on the socioeconomic and political actuality of the Dominican borderland, essential for analyzing the status of these cities. It also addresses the problems of the judicial-political regime, the economic changes, and the socio-demographic impact of the present transition. Chapter IV deals with the spatial reconfiguration of the border and the place border cities occupy in it. Although reconfiguration is initially explained in a general fashion that implies the creation of hierarchic urban networks, in analytical terms it is presented in three dimensions: the articulation of transborder corridors, the formation within them of transborder urban complexes, and the divorce of the factory cities from their internal hinterlands. Here the first process dominates the other two. Hence, Dominican factory cities turn out to be subordinate pieces in the corridors where they are located, dominant with respect to their Haitian counterparts, and incapable of exerting a consistent centrality with regards to their provincial spheres. Notwithstanding that the three of them are formally capital cities at this level. The following Chapter V focuses particularly on how the three cities implement the intermediation process of the flows originating in their own border condition. First, it analyzes the impact of commercial fairs on each city –identified as primary economic activities– as well as in economic (jobs, income) and socio-demographic terms. Then the analysis addresses the spatial consequences –spatial restructuring and hierarchization of cities that have always been homogenous– and the stress on the created environment and on the service infrastructure. Chapter VI discusses the nature of the actions presented by the civil society and their organized social practices. And in particular it attempts to analyze their level of viable alternative proposals. To that effect, the chapter focuses on two types of practices. The first correspond to the market's protectionist actions carried out by some corporate groups or cooperation societies (transportation, trade, etc.), and their impact on income distribution or on the validation of local spaces for the construction of transborder economic relations. The second relates to the practices in defense of the Haitian's human rights and to what extent they have been able to raise awareness in the Dominican population. Although every chapter has a theoretical introduction to the topic it addresses as well as a closing argument, this thesis also includes some final pages highlighting the main findings of this work. It also emphasizes those that may be considered more relevant at the present level of border urban studies. Four of thementioned chapters are accompanied with nearly two dozen maps that were drawn (or adapted) especially for this thesis, and which are, therefore, originals.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 3694 (2007)
    Section d'architecture
    Faculté de l'environnement naturel, architectural et construit
    Institut du développement territorial
    Laboratoire de sociologie urbaine
    Jury: Adriana Rabinovich Behrend, Klaus Meschkat, Philipp Oxhorn

    Public defense: 2007-3-29


    Record created on 2006-10-31, modified on 2016-08-08


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