Poli 348 cupp lab: Buenos aires Spring 2014

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POLI 348

CUPP Lab: Buenos AIres

Spring 2014
Professor Paul Brace

Department of Political Science

Office: 101 Herzstein

Email: pbrace@rice.edu

Phones: (O) (713) 348-2250

(C) (832) 628-5285


Cities around the world are striving to be ‘global.’ Buenos Aires is one of the largest cities in Latin America and dominates Argentina’s economic, political, social and cultural processes, exerting great influence over national and regional development.

During the semester we will explore the emergence of this elegant, cosmopolitan city as Argentina’s gateway to the world, the impact of rapid population growth and the influx of trans-national organizations into the city. Students will gain insights into the ways in which globalization has affected the city and its inhabitants; analyze the changing nature of Buenos Aires’ relationship with the rest of the world; and examine the major urban challenges facing the city today. The course also aims to help students contextualize their travels and encounters in the city, and to develop informed interpretations of their experience, as well as enhancing their understanding of recent Argentine history, culture and society. Topics will include the legacy of Spanish colonization, institutional and political developments, transition to democracy, and recent impacts of Argentina’s debt crisis on the city as well as Buenos Aires’ significance as a cultural hub.


This lab is intended to augment the more general investigations of global urban issues you will undertake in POLI 464 with more focused attention on how these are manifested in Buenos Aires. We will explore literature, data and research strategies suited to particular research questions you develop.

The Buenos Aires Lab course accompanies the research seminar on Comparative Urban Politics and Policy (POLI 464). The lab may be crudely divided into two parts.: 1) research question development and field study preparation and 2) investigating and using resources.

Research Question Development and Field Study Preparation

The first concerns preparation for the field study. Like any filed investigation, our trip to Buenos Aires will be more productive if based (at least partly) on preparation. To this end, the lab is organized to help you focus on a research question of your choice, but also one that we believe is promising in terms of viability (not all questions, no matter how substantively important, lend themselves to viable research projects). Hence, before we depart, our lab efforts will ground you in both the general (regional and historical) forces influencing Buenos Aires, and more specific aspects of politics and policy to narrow your research question.

Using this background, you will present your research question and your proposed strategies for your field investigation, and for leveraging data and methods to augment your field study.

Investigating and Using Resources

In the second part of the semester, efforts will be devoted to helping you identify germane literature and data for your project, and explore software and methodologies that will allow you to leverage the information you have assembled to maximum effect.

Lab Objectives

  • First, the lab will provide students with an in-depth examination of one city in particular—Buenos Aires—so that they can gain micro-level knowledge and understand how politics and policy work in a specific case and also apply theories and concepts from the more macro-level focus of the seminar course.

  • Second, the lab will provide an introduction to salient policy and political issues in Buenos Aires. This is intended to help you narrow your own research project to issues of high salience that past experience reveals are researchable topics.

  • Third, using this focus, you will be instructed in how to prepare a poster that illustrates your question, its importance, and the strategies you will use in the field in Buenos Aires, and upon return, to integrate your field observations with germane literature and data for your research project.

  • Fourth, we will explore known data sources and seek additional sources that fit your particular research topic.

  • Fifth, we will conduct workshops on various software packages and empirical methods for analyzing and illustrating important dimensions of your research topic.

  • Sixth, you will assemble and present the results of your inquiry.

Important Policies

  1. Late Work 

    1. Late work will not be accepted without certified justification (e.g., Doctors note, death in the family, etc.). Students involved in sports or other school-related endeavors need to make every effort to prepare in advance for these activities. 

  2. Electronics 

    1. Computers, tablets, etc. may be used for note taking or searches germane to lab discussions. General web surfing, emailing and texting during class are not permitted. 

  3. Academic Honesty 

    1. Students will be expected to adhere to standards of academic honesty and integrity, as outlined in the Rice Honor Code. 

  4. ADA Statement 

    1. Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities will need to also contact Disability Support Services in the Ley Student Center.


Jan 16 Introduction

Jan 23 Latin American Cities: Colonial Roots and Growth

  • Socolow, Susan Migden and Lyman L. Johnson (1981). Urbanization in Colonial Latin America. Journal of Urban History. Vol. 8 No. 1: 27-59.

  • Myers, David (2002). The dynamics of Local Empowerment: An Overview. In Capital City Politics in Latin American Democratization and Empowerment: 1-27.

Jan 30 Government Organization, Federalism and Politics

  • Spiller, Pablo and Mariano Tommasi (2007). Federalism: Argentine style. In The institutional foundations of public policy in Argentina. Cambridge University Press.

  • Nickson, Andrew (1995). Local Government in Latin America. Selected chapters.

  • Jones, Mark; Miguel de Luca and María Inés Tula (2002). Buenos Aires: The evolution of local Governance. In “Capital city politics in Latin America: democratization and empowerment”.

  • Pírez, Pedro (2002). Buenos Aires: Fragmentation and Privatization of the Metropolitan city. Environment and Urbanization 2002 14: 145

  • Paula Alonso (1993). Politics and Elections in Buenos Aires, 1890-1998: The Performance of the Radical Party. Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3: 465-487.

Feb 6 Housing and Transportation Politics and Policy in Buenos Aires

  • Brakarz, Jose, Margarita Greene and Eduardo Rojas. Recent experiences with neighborhood upgrading programs. Inter-American Development Bank.

  • Barbero, José A. and Luis Uechi (2012). Assessment of Transport Data Availability and Quality in Latin America. Inter-American Development Bank. Department of Infrastructure and Environment

Feb 13 Education and Crime in Buenos Aires City

  • Ariel Fiszbein (2000). Institutions, Service Delivery and Social Exclusion: A Case Study of the Education Sector in Buenos Aires. The World Bank. Human Development Department.

  • David E. Hojman (2002). Explaining Crime in Buenos Aires: The Role of Inequality, Unemployment, and Structural Change. Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 21,No. 1: 121-128.

Feb 20 Poster Session: Research Questions and Strategies

Feb 27 & Mar 6 Field Study in Buenos Aires

Mar 13 Debriefing and Research Strategies

Mar 20 Project Specific Literature Review

  • Briefly summarize and discuss two articles or books that are influencing your research project.

Mar 27 Data Sources

  • Describe and discuss data (empirical or otherwise) that you are using in your research project.

Apr 3 Spring Recess

Apr 10 Methods of Empirical Analysis: Software

  • Use a software package to describe and illustrate your data.

Apr 17 Methods of Empirical Analysis: Statistical Techniques

Apr 24 Research Project Workshop

  • Summarize your work to date: final opportunities to solve problems.

Potential Data Sources

• 2001 Census (by school District): poverty, education, health, immigration and ethnicity. http://www.indec.gov.ar/censo2001s2_2/ampliada_index.asp?mode=02

• 2010 Census (by Comuna): poverty, education, health, immigration and ethnicity. http://www.censo2010.indec.gov.ar/resultadosdefinitivos.asp

• Annual statistics 2011 (by Comuna): poverty, education, health, immigration and ethnicity, income, occupation, unemployment.


• Annual statistics 2003-2011 (by Comuna): poverty, education, health, immigration and ethnicity, income, occupation, unemployment.

http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/hacienda/sis_estadistico/buscador.php?orden=anio,idmes& tipopubli=33&subtipopubli=&titulo=&anio=&mes=&orden_tipo=desc#ancla

• Household Annual Survey (EAH) 2002-2011 (by Comuna): health, education, sports and

culture, social development, labor market and economic development

http://www.estadistica.buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/hacienda/sis_estadistico/EAH/cuadros_basicos/ tabulados_basicos.php?menu_id=34824

• City indicators evolution in different areas (aggregated data): health, education, sports and culture, social development, labor market and economic development, security, environment, transportation


• Official publications about specific topics. http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/hacienda/sis_estadistico/glosario.php

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