[1] Following a global socioeconomic order, Latin America could be a border itself: South America versus USA-Canada, South America versus Europe. It is not East, neither pure West; it is the new “hybrid” world located “at the south of the border, at the west of the sun”. Favelas, barrios populares, and villas miseria, constitute the borders in the border.

Multiple and shifting are the key cultural components of border spaces; thus, hybridity and hyper-hybridity are the border urban condition. Related with people, the word hybrid derives from the Latin “ibrida” that means “… of human parents of different races, half-breed “. It is defined as “anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of different or incongruous elements…a compound formed of elements belonging to different languages”. In the dictionary it is explained that when the prefix “hyper” is used with nouns, it means “going across, transposed” and also “…beyond, overshooting, excess, extravagance”. Hence, hyper-hybridity implies something such as an exaggerated hybridity, or beyond it.

Current times are modern times, now as before “everything is pregnant of its contrary” and “all that is solid melts into air” [2]. Hence, postmodernism is another way of modernism. David Harvey explains that, from a postmodern perspective, the representation of the world is fragmented, and full of uninterrupted connections, that it results in changeable pieces of it, “…producers and consumers of cultural artifacts participate in the production of significations and meanings living it open to recombine those elements in any way they wish. The effect is to break (deconstruct) the power of the author to impose meanings or offer a continuous narrative [3]. This process creates a double reading, of the piece in relation with the real/real, and of the fragment as a part of a totally different context made up by connections.

If hyper-hybridity displays the multi-dimensions of spatiality, one may wonder if hybridity is virtual; and if it is, what is its relation with other concepts like hyper-reality and simulation. Most of the times, European scholars considering that only in places such as Las Vegas could be possible the “frantic hyperreality”; according with Umberto Eco, American people created the “absolute fake” in order to satisfy their obsession for the “real thing” [4].
Jean Baudrillard, points out that simulation uses models to create somewhat “real” without a real origin; simulation generates hyperrealities, which have signals of truth (real). Simulacrum is a continuing circuit without references or limits; it exchanges for itself. Representation is a simulation; there is a shift from signs to mean the real, to denial the sign as value. [5]
Nezar AlSayyad explains another kind of simulation, a distributive one with limitless effects; here, simulation “…turns against the entire system of resemblance and replication…” selecting all the options to multiply the potentiality of simulacrum [6]. Hence, it should suggested that this mode of simulation is used in the hybrid everyday life of the border (favela), and sometimes it is expressed in the surface of the built environment, it recreates places that are not reality/reality but hyper/reality. Simulation uses nostalgia to represent the real, a “second-hand truth” obtained from the life experiences kept in memory.
Rob Shields explains that virtual has been used to produce channels of communications and from there, “make present what is absent”. Virtual could be considered an edge, constituted by liminal spaces where nothing is absolute, neither real nor imagined, but an uninterrupted simulation. [7]
In the global era the construction of identity ranges between nation, ethnic, and market identities, even if we have access at any cultural-temporal possibilities, the selection is not free but it seems to be. The choice process is performed negotiating with others; the social world plays the role of a gatekeeper. Yes, choices are determined by external forces, but the sense of freedom in the selection is, in a certain way, liberty. The sense of choosing is an urban right.

In Favelas, culture, as well as spatial experience, they are hybrid; both of them make references of virtual places. In borders virtually is experienced as a part of the everyday “real” life, thus, it is hard to think in virtual as an independent concept. In the middle of the discussions trying to find what is real or virtual, one thing is clear: “…the emergence of the virtual has fundamentally transformed the way we conceive of our present reality” [8]. Virtually is inside the mind of the border inhabitants, is a cultural habit, a hybrid one, hence the blurring of limits, the mixture of ideas and memories (intoxication and mystification of signs), are common practices, they determine border spatial experiences.
The role of the everyday life is crucial for the comprehension of borders, it develops spatial patterns of historical ideas, social actions, and routine. “Border” inhabitants choose fleeting and transient elements of spatiality, it means, everyday life activities and flexible-surfaces [9], to express themselves.

Border spaces are not free of oppression, hegemony, and spatial injustice; in the globalized world, cultural identities are determined by power forces; however, the “sense of choose” is the first step to shape the identity-subjectivity of the border inhabitants, and this rough effort represents the continuing spatial resistance. Hyper hybridity as favela circumstance will shape what is coming on urban.


Photos by Diana Maldonado


[1] Diana Maldonado,Futuristic Traditions: Rethinking “Hybrid” Identities On The Southern Side Of The Us-Mexican Border (fragment), 2014 IASTE Conference, Whose Tradition?, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

[2] Berman, Marshall, All That is Solid Melts into Air, (Nueva York: Ed. Simon and Schuster. 1982) pp. 5-12.

[3] David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, (Cambridge MA: Blackwell. 2011) pp. 50-52.

[4] Umberto, Eco, La estrategia de la ilusión, (España: Lumen, 1999) pp. 5 y 6.

[5] Jean Buadrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, (USA: The University of Michigan Press, 1981).

[6] Nezar AlSayyad, Traditions: The “Real”, the Hyper, and the Virtual In the Built Environment (USA: Ed.Routledge. 2014) p.276-278
[7] Rob Shields, The Virtual, (USA: Ed.Routledge. 2003).

[8] Nezar AlSayyad, The Virtual Square. Urban Space, Media and the Egyptian Uprising , in Harvard International Review, Summer 2012, Vol. 34 Issue I, pp. 58-63.

[9] Hyper-surfaces are like screens with superimposed “images” between reality and virtual world; they work as sponges that blur the limit between the real and the hyperreal, allowing virtual realities. The idea of hyper-surfaces is related with computational technology and complex calculations. However, border architecture use flexible facades with the same purposes, thus they could be the precursor of the screen sponge, they work as hyper surfaces.

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