Historic Evolution and Neoliberal Urbanism in Asunción

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

This article provides an urban geographic descriptive profile of Asunción, Paraguay, a relatively understudied place in Latin America. Founded nearly 500 years ago as a Spanish settlement, Asunción offers a rich array of urban experiences that are of interest to geographers. The article first situates Asunción within the national context of Paraguay, then traces its urban evolution across five major time periods. Central to the story is Asunción’s changing relationship with the Paraguay River, from its founding as a river port, to the turn away from the river and the rise of suburban growth, and the re-embracing of the river with new waterfront redevelopment projects. The article emphasizes rapid urban changes currently occurring since the post-dictatorship period of democracy and neoliberalism emerged in the late 20thcentury. This includes new investments focused on revitalizing the historic urban center, growth in the tourism industry, and major infrastructure and transportation projects. The article concludes with a research agenda proposing directions for future critical and socially engaged research that examines social, economic, and political inequalities and injustices within Asunción.