The blurry outlines of this book took shape more than a dozen years ago when I got off a plane from New York to Buenos Aires with a vague desire to teach English in a country only recently recovering from a deep economic malaise. My greatest debt is to the porteño friends and residents I met along the way, who taught me not just about their city but also about friendship, generosity, and many other things as well.
The scholarly aspects of this process began at CUNY in 2008. I am grateful for my dissertation advisers there, Sharon Zukin, Philip Kasinitz, and Sujatha Fernandes, who modeled the kind of publicly engaged sociology that I have come to embrace and nurtured my intellectual project in ways great and small. This project is indebted to many friends and mentors who helped me along the way, but perhaps no debt is greater than to my adviser Sharon Zukin. Her critical engagement with a distant city, interest in all forms of urban culture, and ability to see general patterns in the individual joists of the urban edifice gave this project life. I am profoundly appreciative of the many drafts read and comments given over the years. Friends at CUNY such as Natascia Boeri, Benjamin Haber, Sebastian Villamizar-Santamaria, Tommy Wu, and Koby Oppenheim made this project stronger and provided needed moments of humor throughout the process. My CUNY writing group, Jinwon Kim, Fang Xu, and Aneta Kostrzewa offered helpful edits and insightful points of comparison. This research would not have been possible without the financial and intellectual support of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, as well as a CUNY Dissertation Completion Grant. I have been fortunate to count on the support of the University of Michigan–Flint for travel funding and materials and am grateful for Troy Rosencrants and the UM–Flint GIS Center for support with maps.
In Buenos Aires, I was fortunate to come into contact with Mercedes Di Virgilio, who brought me into conversations and friendships at the Gino Germani Institute. Mercedes’ giving spirit in terms of her time and scholarly engagement with a foreign researcher represented a model of intellectual generosity that I hope I can pay forward in the years to come. I am grateful to colleagues such as Mariano Perelman and Guillermo Jajamovich for advice, comments, and feedback over the years. Chapter 7 benefited from discussions with Ignacio Rullansky, also from Gino Germani. I am appreciative of Juan Ignacio Marasco for shedding light on the arcane workings of the city legislature (and doing so with humor!). I reserve a special thanks for friends in Buenos Aires: Claudio, Marcos, Mario, Noe, Nico, Andres, Murphy, Flor, Ale, Benja, and Ryan. I found my way back through many twists and turns due to the support of these relationships and the keen insight and wit that helped me better understand Buenos Aires. Enormous gratitude is due to Nico for sharing his professional contacts in city government and allowing me to enter physical and social spaces to which I would otherwise not have had access.
My colleagues at the University of Michigan–Flint—especially Jennifer Alvey’s critical feedback—are responsible for keeping this undertaking going with crucial edits, camaraderie, and advice. I am grateful to Daniel Birchok and Heather Laube for their ongoing support and mentorship. Parts of this manuscript were workshopped with University of Michigan faculty, and I am thankful for the insightful comments of Alex Murphy, Karyn Lacy, Jeremy Levine, and Sonyu Mojola. My students over the years provided me with some of the most useful feedback, by questioning commonsense assumptions and sparking my interest in topics unknown to me. I am grateful for the ongoing inspiration they provide in their commitment to intellectual growth despite sometimes significant obstacles.
This project benefited from keen editors and readers who provided feedback and advice on different iterations along the way, such as Miriam Greenberg, Dana Kornberg, Hillary Angelo, Daniel Aldana-Cohen, Astrid Wood, and Sergio Montero. At the University of Minnesota Press I could not have asked for more thoughtful editors. Susan Clarke’s perceptive insights seemed to recognize exactly where a chapter needed to be developed with feedback that helped me resolve some vexing problems. It has been a pleasure to work with Pieter Martin, whose expert guidance helped me move the project forward through various iterations and revisions. I am grateful for outside reviews that pushed me to draw out and crystallize my core arguments.
In whatever way this book contributes to scholarly debates, its origins are communal, and I am deeply grateful for the unflagging support of family and friends. The acts of caring and guidance from my parents, sister, and grandmother over the years are too numerous to list, but some germ of this project is surely to be found in growing up listening to adults talk about politics or being forced to listen to the news on the way to school. I am appreciative of my family for not only supporting a hastily conceived move to Argentina in 2005 but also for sharing in my enthusiasm and curiosity about new places. My sister’s desire to understand the byzantine process of dissertation and book writing is a testament to her patience and generosity and can be counted in hours of transcontinental phone calls over the years. Friends new and old provided an escape from research and writing and put up with my constant apprehensions. The past decade (or three) would have been less rich without Amira, Javier, Max, and Satoshi, among many others. The Fischers welcomed me into their family in the middle of this project and I feel fortunate for their steady encouragement. Finally, I am grateful to Elias, whose interest in cities and critical worldview helped shape my arguments. Your love and nurturing transcended our shared cynicism and allowed me to see more nuance, both in this project and in life.