José María Arguedas’s novel The Fox from Up Above and the Fox from Down Below presents the Peruvian city of Chimbote in the 1960s as a boomtown built on economic exploitation and environmental degradation, on widespread poverty and the casual but persistent violence of racism and misogyny.1 The text’s double narrative moves between fictional scenes and diary entries that record the novelist’s struggles over the process of writing; between his vivid descriptions of Chimbote as a suffering body and his overwhelming anxieties over whether he understood the city at all.

Another kind of double narrative appears in two contrasting approaches to remaking Chimbote: the master plan developed in 1948 by Town Planning Associates (TPA), a U.S.-based firm headed by Paul Lester Wiener and Josep Lluís Sert, and a series of aided self-help housing programs that began in the late 1950s. These schemes represent very different traditions of housing provision...

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