My dissertation will analyze the significant and poorly understood projects of postcolonial reinvention of Lima between 1850 and 1930. It focuses on three key historical moments in which Limeno elites experimented with urban transformations, projects of modernization and social reform/control to physically and socially restructure and re-signify a city that symbolized the permanence of the colonial past and that had to be reinvented as the new face of a civilized, modernizing nation. It proposes that Lima itself became an ambivalent physical and imaginary space in which the contradictions inherent into the notions of nation, modernity, sovereignty, citizenship, and progress were worked out. My study proposes the notion of “postcolonial modernization” to understand the complexity of such experiments in modernity. My dissertation will not, however, limit its scope to the projects by which Limeno elites attempted to reshape the city. It will pay special attention to the constant processes of interaction and negotiation with the subaltern urban masses, who actively participated in the debates on the city and nation, shaped and challenged the projects of reform, and who, by their actions and omissions, complicated and played a crucial role in their outcomes.