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Peter M. Ward
  • Austin, TX
  • United States
  • C. B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair #…
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Peter M. Ward, UT-Austin Professor

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Professor Peter M. Ward (BIO & LINKS)

CONTACT PROFESSOR Peter M. Ward (Professional Consultant):

Voice: 512-471-6302

EMAIL: peter.ward@austin.utexas.edu



Informal settlements in Latin American cities

Colonias and self-help settlements in the USA

Latin American Urbanization

Urban Governance

City Planning (especially Mexico City)


(LINK) to Professor Peter M. Ward's Faculty BIO

In 2015 he appeared in the UN-Habitat Global Lecture Series discussing his recent work about housing rehab policy in older consolidated informal settlements Latin America.



Peter M. Ward studied geography at the University of Hull, England (1969-72), from which he graduated with First Class Hons. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 1976 and subsequently has held senior teaching and research positions at University College London (1976-85), The University of Cambridge (1985-91), and at The University of Texas at Austin (1991-present) where he holds the C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in US-Mexico Relations, and is professor in the Department of Sociology (College of Liberal Arts), and in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs where he is also the Associate Dean for Research.  Between 1993-7 and 2001-05, he was Director of the Mexican Center at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

During his forty-year career, Ward has served as government advisor to various Mexican government ministries and international development agencies. In 2000 he and his wife (Dr. Victoria Rodríguez) were jointly honored by the Mexican Government (Relaciones Exteriores) with the “Ohtli Medal” for their services to the advancement of understanding of Mexican culture and society.  Between 2002-07 he was Executive Editor of the Latin American Research Review. He serves on a number of international journal editorial boards, and was a founding member of the UK Bulletin of Latin American Research.

He is author or co-author of 17 books and 120 scholarly articles on low income housing, land markets, social policy, democratization and governance, Mexican politics and megacities (most notably Mexico City).  Among his major publications are: Self-help Housing: A Critique (1982, Editor); Housing, the State and the Poor: Policy and Practice in Latin American Cities (1985 with Alan Gilbert); Welfare Politics in Mexico: Papering Over the Cracks (1986); Corruption, Development and Inequality (1989 Editor);  Mexico City: The Production and Reproduction of an Urban Environment (1990 & 1998); Opposition Government in Mexico (co-edited with Victoria Rodríguez, 1995); New Federalism and State Government in Mexico: “Bringing the States Back-In”  (with Victoria Rodríguez and Enrique Cabrero, 1999); Colonias and Public Policy in Texas and Mexico:  Urbanization by Stealth, (1999); México: Megaciudad: política y desarrollo 1970-2002 (2004). Governance in the Americas: Decentralization Democracy and Subnational Government in the USA, Mexico, and Brazil  (With Robert Wilson, Peter Spink and Victoria Rodríguez.) appeared in March 2008 (University of Notre Dame Press). A follow up book(also U. Notre Dame) is Metropolitan Governance in the Federalist Americas (with Spink and Wilson), published in 2012. His latest book is


Edition: Spanish edition of Housing Policies in Latin American Cities, Publisher: Editorial Universidad del Rosario, Bogota, Colombia. http://www.urosario.edu.co/editorial-y-publicaciones, ISBN: ISBN: 978-958-738-625-7 (print paperback) ISBN: 978-958-738-626-4 (digital)

In 2006 he led the initiative to create the Latin American Housing Network which he coordinates at the University of Texas at Austin www.lahn.utexas.org

His direct e-mail is: peter.ward@mail.utexas.edu  Further biographical details are available at:  http://www.la.utexas.edu/socdept/faculty/ward

Recent & Ongoing Research: Two main fronts.

1.     Housing Policy in Consolidated (irregular) Settlements of Metropolitan Areas in Latin America  (see above image)

This research about self-help housing in Latin America concentrates upon the processes and public policies that take account of self-help housing rehabilitation for those settlements which formed thirty or more years ago. Current research almost exclusively targets newer settlement development and rental housing dynamics, and fails to appreciate the acute policy needs for recasting and renovation of the now densely settled and consolidated (but often highly dilapidated) dwellings built by families in earlier decades of rapid migration and urbanization. It involves a network of researchers working in 11 cities in nine countries under the umbrella of the University of Texas at Austin, led by Ward. See www.lahn.utexas.org  for full website details, datasets and protocols.  Go to Welcome Page and click on the video link to see a 15 minute video about the network (in Spanish).

(In 2015 he appeared in the UN-Habitat Global Lecture Series discussing his recent work about housing

rehab policy in older consolidated informal settlements Latin America.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTeiIGVyox0 )

2. Informality: Colonias, and Informal Homestead Subdivisions in the USA.

This corpus of research examines the extension of self-help housing analysis to wider metropolitan America – what I refer to as “informal homestead subdivisions” (aka colonias). This is leading to significant theoretical and methodological contributions about the study of land and housing markets in the USA (see publications list also "Texas Housing Studies on the LAHN website) http://www.lahn.utexas.org/TexasColonias.html

Recent Publications from these two areas of research activity are:


“A Patrimony for the Children”: Low Income Homeownership and Housing (im)Mobility in Latin American Cities.  Annals of the Association of American Geographers (AAAG). Volume 102, Issue 6, 1489-1510.

Housing and Urban Regeneration in the First Suburbs and “Innerburbs” of the Americas. In Vol. 7 International Encyclopedia of Housing and the Home. Susan Smith, Editor in Chief. Elsevier,  pp 559-572

Housing Policies in Developing Countries. In Vol 3. International Encyclopedia of Housing and the Home. Susan Smith, Editor in Chief. Elsevier. pp 219-227.

“Self-Help Housing: Ideas and Practice in the Americas”, Bish Sanyal, Lawrence Vale and Christina Rosan, eds.  Planning Ideas That Matter: Livability, Territoriality, Governance and Reflective Practice . MIT Press.  pp.283-310

Sustainable housing applications and policies for low-income self-build and housing rehab”, Habitat International, Volume 36, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 312–323 (with Esther Sullivan).

Inheritance and Succession among Second and Third Generation Squatter Households in Mexico City (With Erika Grajeda)  Latin American Research Review. Special Issue, pp139-162.


“The Reproduction of Informality in Low Income Self-Help Housing Communities”.  In Vinit Mukhija and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, editors. pp.59-77.  The Informal City in the USA , MIT Press.

Measuring Self-Help Home Improvements in Texas Colonias: A Ten Year Snapshot”.  With Noah Durst.  Urban Studies. Vol. 51, 10, 2143-2159.

Intensive Case Study Methodology for the Analysis of Self-Help Housing Consolidation, Household Organization and Family Mobility. Current Urban Studies, Vol 2. #2, 88-104.,  (Lead author with E. Jiménez and M. Di Virgilio).  http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=47476

Housing Policy in Latin American Cities: A New Generation of Strategies and Approaches for UN-Habitat III in 2016.  Routledge: Research in Urban Politics and Policy Series. (Editor and Lead Author with E. Jiménez and M. Di Virgilio, & author or co-author of six chapters – see below).  http://www.routledge.com/9781138776869/

Ch. 1    Latin America’s “Innerburbs”: Towards a New Generation of Housing Policies for Low-Income Consolidated Self-Help Settlements. pp1-19.

Ch.2.    A Spectrum of Policies for Housing Rehab and Community Regeneration in the “Innerburbs”. pp20-39.

Ch. 4.   The Challenge for Housing Rehab in Mexico City and Monterrey. pp.65-94.

Ch. 8.    Rehab, “Los Aires” and Densification of Consolidated Settlements in Lima, Peru. With Danielle Rojas, pp. 160-191.

Ch. 9.   Unique, or Just  Different?  Self-Help, Social Housing and Rehab in Santiago, Chile. pp.192-213

Ch. 13.  Urban Regeneration and Housing Rehabilitation in Latin America’s Innerburbs. pp286-302. (With Jimenez and Di Virgilio.)



 “Texas Self-Help Informal Settlement & Colonia Housing Conditions, Aging, and Health Status”, pp *-*. Challenges for Hispanic Aging: Mexico and the United States. 2014. Eds. Jacqueline L. Angel, Kyriakos S. Markides, Fernando M. Torres-Gil and William A. Vega. Springer Science, New York.

Protecting Homebuyers in Low-Income Communities: Evaluating the Success of Texas Legislative Reforms in the Informal Homeownership Market. Forthcoming in Law and Social Inquiry. With Heather Way and Lucille Wood

Primary Classes at the University of Texas

Qualitative Methods for the Social Sciences.  (A mixed methods class for graduate students that complements qualitative approaches.)

Housing Practices and Public Policies in Latin America; From Santiago, Chile, to San Antonio, Texas.  (Graduate seminar)

The Mexican Political System in Transition (Graduate seminar)

Urbanization in Latin America. (Graduate)  

Society of Modern Mexico (Undergraduate)

Mexico "There" / Mexico "Here":  Understanding the Hispanic Rise in the USA. (Undergraduate)

Profile Information

Job Title
C. B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair # 1 in US-Mexico Relations
University of Texas at Austin
Areas of Expertise/Research Interests (List All Please)
Informal settlements in Latin American cities
Colonias and self-help settlements in the USA
Latin American Urbanization
Urban Governance
City Planning (especially Mexico City)

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