Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Roberts

Abstract

This dissertation aims to expand our understanding of how lifestyle migrants from the Global North impact the urban space of a Global South city, particularly the built environment. In order to situate the questions posed in this dissertation, I focus on how lifestyle migrants from the Global North and their foreign capital transform the city of Granada, Nicaragua through processes of gentrification, and how the social and economic climate of the city and its residents are impacted. This research allows for empirically informed theoretical critiques to be made about the economic and social implications of the globalization of gentrification resulting from heterogeneous lifestyle migration.

The property markets in many Global North locations, most notably the US, have pushed lifestyle migrants to look abroad; gentrification has gone international, spreading to the Global South. For reasons such as affordability and proximity to the US and Canada, many Global North property-buyers are looking to the colonial historic city center of Granada, Nicaragua as a site for relocation and investment. These migrants are purchasing and remodeling colonial-style homes as part of a broader transformation of the historic center to cater to international tourism and elite consumption.

Many lifestyle migrants involved in the gentrification processes occurring in Granada are choosing transnational lifestyles by maintaining citizenship in their home countries, and simultaneously engaging in economic and social relationships in both Nicaragua and their home (or other) countries. The advantages that accompany their positions as migrants from the Global North greatly affect the lifestyle migrants’ roles in the transformation of the city, regardless of their own personal social and economic status at home. Many lifestyle migrants embrace a role of economic and social developers, and often enact a racist and neocolonialist understanding of the Nicaraguan people and culture as needing “improvement”. Lifestyle migrants are generally able to benefit from capital accumulated in Global North markets and their Global North citizen status enables them to live a mobile, transnational lifestyle. Such economic and mobility opportunities are unavailable for many Nicaraguans, further exacerbating the inequalities between local Nicaraguan residents and privileged lifestyle migrants.

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