3 thoughts on “Medellin’s transformation :: a book

  1. Thank you for sharing this book. However, after reading through it, I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed by the content. Besides the historical summary at the beginning, the book limits itself to a series of interviews on certain themes, in which both the interviewers and the interviewees go on a praising of the city and its model. In my opinion, their obsession to compare Medellin to other – mostly Western – cities shows that this book is more addressed towards international organizations and politicians rather than urban researchers. It’s not to say that there is nothing to admire in the recent changes the city has gone through, but I was expecting a more critical analysis.

  2. Jap – I understand your frustration. You may want to have a look at my new book on Medellin: http://www.librerianacional.com/es/index.php?option=com_catalogo&task=mostrarDetalleProducto&idProducto=292770).

    I do stand with the first book as well, however. It was an institutional effort produced for the City of Medellin and the IADB, at the occasion of the IADB general assembly in march 2009 in Medellin (as stated in the book). It was meant to help the city produce a first comprehensive overview of its transformation process. No such effort existed end 2008/early 2009. We also wanted to put the doers at word, the city reformers (mayors, architects, planners, cultural agents, civil society organizations involved), to understand what they were trying to do, how they were talking about the city and its reforms. It was also a by product & catalogue of a large, outdoors, design price winning exhibition about the city transformation, mounted by Museo de Antioquia, Museo de Arte Moderno and designed by Camilo Restrepo Ochoa Architects and others (disclosure: I was the academic director). Both exhibition and book were produced, from scratch, texts, interviews and new photographic work included, within 5 months.

    There is an enormous amount to learn from the urban policy reform implemented since Fajardo (2004), as there was before in Bogota under mayors Mockus and Penalosa (see http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADO151.pdf and “Bogota:el renacer de una ciudad” published by Planeta in 2006). I’m often more interested in finding out what is working and why, even in small reforms/interventions, before going in to the low hanging fruits of “what is lacking/not working”, if not, we risk to come up with premature judgments and end up in the futility trap, as Albert Hirschmann has so well explained, in his Rhetoric of Reaction. Urbam, the Eafit University based think tank in Medellin, is doing an excellent job in crtically rethinking the transformations in Medellin, even though they are all (ex) doers / reformers.

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