Subsidiary displacement and empty plots: Dilemmas of original residents and newcomers in the reconstruction of Talca, Chile 2010–2016

Jorge Inzulza ContardoPaulina Gatica Araya

Throughout history people have been affected by disaster events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and landslides, with devastating effects for cities and towns around the world. Since the 1990s, post-disaster reconstruction has often been seen as an opportunity to invest in new projects following market forces and property speculation rather than for implementing rehabilitation strategies to address physical, social and psychological effects. Housing subsidies provided by the government seem to be a new issue creating more social disparity in the case of Talca, Chile after the 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake. This paper explores the contemporary urban landscape of this intermediate city, shaped between 2010 and 2016, which shows a great number of empty plots being filled by gated community typologies. By using ethnography and semi-structured interviews of residents from four historic neighbourhoods, the results show key patterns of physical and social change such as displacement of original residents by newcomers and lack of social cohesion along with tensions among them. The case of the Talca, Chile reconstruction is educational for understanding the ways in which many inner cities are affected by reconstruction policies with property speculation and gentrification effects. This paper concludes with the criteria that are being applied to redesign historic neighbourhoods and provides reflections for improving urban planning mechanisms to include both original residents and newcomers who are sharing these historic neighbourhoods.

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