The study of mobility and its relationship with built areas is a field that has acquired greater relevance in academic production over the last few years. In this context, it is an original approach it sees mobility as more than a physical movement from one place to another; it also refers to the social, political, historical, cultural, economic, geographic, communicative and material dimensions of movement. The mobility paradigm has become relevant in Europe, where research areas discuss topics that range from tourism to the use of devices to complement mobility, or from daily mobility in different means of transport to international migrations and its global impact. In Latin America, the study of mobility, considering the aforementioned points of view, is still at an early stage.
Nevertheless, mobility is an important part of the social, geopolitical and cultural imaginary of Latin American cities, where being “in movement” is a key element of what being citizen means. In addition, this region is home to different cultures and mobile practices: from indigenous cultures rooted in the traditional definition of home to the historical institutionalization of colonial and post-colonial commercial routes and forced eradication; from controversial experiments on free international trade to migration policies and experiences; from the widespread impact of communication technologies to the mobilization of surveillance systems; and from the recreational mobility of tourism to the social and cultural meaning of transport and movement for daily life.
Within the framework of residential habitat, and the topics addressed by Revista INVI, the approach to daily mobility questions and complements rigid opinions about territory, as physical and conceptual limits regarding the understanding of residential habitat are becoming blurred. In this sense, the articles presented in this issue contribute significantly to the development of this problem area in Latin America from four different but complementary perspectives, namely: understanding the location of housing by considering all daily activities carried out by people; the “pedestrianization” as a result of new environmental, social and territorial challenges; a cultural approach and its “urban” impact; and the relationship between mobility and the different territorial policies.
The case presented by Zunino et al, “Social Housing and Spatial Segregation in the City of Pucón, Chile”, is relevant not only for the significance of understanding the situation of non-metropolitan cities, but also because it is important to know the situations that emerge in cities that, in the Chilean case, are growing in population. This paper is also important because a proper intervention in social housing should acknowledge that these are inhabited by people that perform different daily activities. Hence, identifying labor sources, the level of influence of community organizations and the daily mobility of people is essential to think about localization and interventions on social housing.
From an ecological point of view, the article “Urban and Regional Walking and Mobility in the City Models for Santiago de Chile”, written by María Isabel Pavez, analyzes the ways of inhabiting that transcend the use of the house, focusing on inhabiting from a pedestrian perspective. The article puts forth the need to promote walking as a way to inhabit the city, taking into consideration an analysis about how pedestrians have been considered in studies on vehicles and highways in Chile. The pedestrian opinion cannot be ignored when it comes to territorial planning, especially when environmental needs and the acknowledgment of the different specific mobility of city dwellers (e.g. elderly people) are considered.
From a cultural point of view, the article of Carlos Lange, “Cultural Dimensions of Urban Mobility”, analyzes the importance of daily mobility from a social sciences perspective. Since the XIXth century, mobility has been regarded as an essential aspect of urban life. However, phenomena such as globalization and the increase in flow have modified the “urban” concept. This modification means a revision of theoretical and methodological frameworks in order to address mobility. The new forms of mobility promote new sociability patterns, as it transforms cultural experiences of inhabiting the city. This situation offers the possibility for new theoretical and methodological formulation, as well as questions for future urban research.
The opinion of Alfonso Iracheta about “The Need for a Public Policy to Develop Integrated Transport Systems in Major Mexican Cities”, despite being exclusive of Mexico, raises questions that may be applied to most of Latin American cities. These questions have links with the clear urbanization process in the countries of the region; the increase in the number of vehicles; lack of infrastructure; and public transport systems that do not meet minimum standards. Additionally, these questions are also related to environmental, traffic and road safety problems. In order to tackle these topics, there should be a comprehensive vision of transport and mobility for territorial practices, greater citizen participation, an explicit link between mobility policies and urban development and the environment, and a substantial improvement of public transport.
Apart from the main topic of this issue, which deals with mobility, this issue also presents the article “Inhabiting the School”, written by Macarena Ibarra and Rodrigo Mora. This paper analyzes the way diseases such as smallpox and obesity may be used to think about urban spaces.
All these topics constitute new ways of addressing problems of residential habitat. It is hoped these articles contribute new ideas for future research.
Paola Jirón Martínez