Neoliberal-parasitic economies and space building: Chicago's Southwest Side

David Wilson, Dean Beck, Adrian Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neoliberal-parasitic economies currently blanket many low-income Latino communities across urban America. We deepen and nuance the thesis that space building is now a privileged instrument of these neoliberal economies. We unearth the everyday operations of this economy and how its manufactured spaces of human management and control are mediated and responded to by local workers to reshape this economy and local worker lives. Our focus, Chicago's poor Latino Southwest Side, advances understanding of the mechanics and impacts of this complex space building on this transnational population. Ethnographic research reveals complex contingencies where a neoliberal colonizing and producing of space tussle with worker perceptions of affliction and hope. We identify the production of a Latino oppression space that is simultaneously a site for human degradation, human struggle to survive, personal and ethnic hope and possibility, and ethnic enrichment. In this context, we reveal that human resistance and hope etched into this space forms from a persistent imagining: the Latino Village. To date, this ethnoscape's usage for organizing such oppositional spaces has eluded studies of contemporary Latino counterpolitics. We conclude that this economy's operation and people living through its spatial productions need to be seen as an inseparable dialectic. Urban spaces are both economically and institutionally conditioned and poignantly lived through in a continuous flow that determines their multifaceted character and effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-626
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Chicago
  • Ethnoscape
  • Neoliberalism
  • Parasitic economies
  • Southwest Side

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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