The result of several years of research into the history of new technologies and urban improvements in Valparaíso, Chile, during the nineteenth century, Samuel J. Martland's book discusses how the modernization of this port city created new institutions, legal schemes, and public regulations for adopting technological advances to face the demographic growth, economic development, and new risks of urban life. Valparaíso is described as a cosmopolitan and liberal city whose elites tried to “build a city that grows without drowning itself” (p. 235). Valparaíso's position within the global capitalist geography, as well as its physical and social specificities—especially the congested and highly dense area between the sea and the hills—forced its authorities to create new technopolitical arrangements in order to manage the increasing complexity of city governance. Martland decides to focus on different historical moments of the city, from the beginning of...

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