On the road to affirmation: facilitating urban resilience in the Americas

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This article explores how international policy elites rationalise intervention by trying to go beyond the neoliberal critique of universalist knowledge and top-down governance. In the enabling neoliberal policy projects of the 2000s, international policymakers were banned from imposing substantive policy solutions from above, but were considered (uniquely) capable of putting in place the facilitating framework through which local actors could produce context sensitive policy responses. The reason is that, although neoliberal policy rejected simplistic universalist notions of the subject, market and the state, it continued to operate through a range of reductionist assumptions, concepts and categories, such as bounded rationality, the rational design of incentives and a core set of liberal normative aspirations. In contrast, the resilience discourse seems to be set on overcoming the remaining analytical reductionism of neo-liberal policy frameworks. What are the implications for international policy engagement in the Global South of this much more radical critique? How do international policymakers think about facilitating local agency if the knowledge premises which made them an agential self in international relations disappear? The paper investigates these questions with reference to the evolution of crime-related US security interventions in the Americas, recurring especially on the Merida Initiative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-136
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Society
Issue number1
Early online date16 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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