Neighborhood Transformation. A Case of Gastronomic Displacement. Market forces and place identity


  • Cecilia Giusti Texas A&M University


land markets, neighborhood identity, Displacement




How a city is being transformed due to market forces in a developing country? How do city planning authorities deal with private actors to ensure people’s lives improve? This proposal deals with these questions int the context of a mega city experiencing growth in South America’s Peru.

The Santa Cruz neighborhood, in Lima, Peru can be traced to the 1900s when a small portion of one big Hacienda was partitioned, subdivided in small lots, and sold to former slaves (Orrego Penagos 2013). It evolved into basic housing units, concentrating woodshops, car mechanics, basic services, and alike, a “typical” low-income mostly black neighborhood. It coexisted in an otherwise upscale area that took advantage of cheap labor nearby, not a rare phenomenon in South American cities. This reality changed in the early 2000s when affluent investors identified Santa Cruz as cheap land for business; interestingly, the first investors were high-end “eclectic” restaurants. Nowadays Santa Cruz has become a gastronomic hub and a dynamic economic area in the city of Lima (Matt and Garcia 2019; Aguirre Sosa et. al. 2023). With new investment, land prices increased, resulting in forced displacement of the local population; legal actions for evictions, repossessing of land, and active protests by local residents and advocate grassroots organizations, are now happening (Claux 2022). Given the complexity of the Megacity of Lima, and the mixing of racial and cultural realities to this gentrification phenomenon, this case study reflects more nuances worth studying. How do residents react to the change in the character -and value- of their neighborhood? How are planning officials supporting -if at all- local residents? Or big investments? Through detailed review of city documents and local interviews, this paper aims at bringing lessons on how this process has been (mis)managed. We find continuous contradictions between the neighborhood “attractiveness” and historic marginalized populations. Who has the right to the City and how market forces redefine such a question is at the core of our research.


Aguirre S., Dextre Jauregui, M, Lozano Urbano, M. and Vargas Merino, J. (2023) ‘Background of Peruvian gastronomy audits perspectives. An assessment of its current growth’ Journal of Ethnic Foods, Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2024)

Claux, D. (2022) ‘Stuck at the Intersection. The Making of Self and Place Along an Avenue in Lima Peru’ The Sociological Review, December. Available at: (Accesssed: 29 January 2024)

Matta, R. and Garcia, M. (2019) ‘The Gastro-political Turn in Peru’ Anthropology of Food. Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2024)

Orrego P. (2013), Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Blog, Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2024)