Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Roberts


Cartagena is a South American city whose historical built environment has been recognized as a World Heritage Site due to the preservation of elements of the Spanish military architecture of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. This recognition promoted a tourist and real estate boom in the Centro Histórico and, as a result, its inhabitants have faced gentrification dynamics that are expelling them to other areas of the city. During the last 15 years, these dynamics have shown a strong acceleration. Therefore, the Centro Histórico is experiencing, on the one hand, huge inflows of capital for the purchase of properties and, on the other hand, the greatest demographic drop in five centuries as a result of intra-urban migration from the Centro Histórico to the rest of Cartagena. This dissertation examines the links between real estate capital, heritage, growth coalition, and their effects on the diffusion of housing prices from the area with the highest capital inflow to the rest of the city. First, using a mixed-method approach, I show that behind the accelerated gentrification in the city there are national and transnational real estate investors who took the built environment of the Centro Histórico as a spatial fix in the global crisis scenario. The maintenance and increase of the profit rate have been achieved using the heritage label that attracts tourist consumers and that drives the continuous increase in potential land rent. Then, through Critical Discourse Analysis strategies, I identified discursive narratives to approach the understanding of the representations of space that are constructed from the growth coalition formed by public and private actors. I argue that the main strategy of the coalition is to repeatedly demonstrate the benefits of real estate and tourism activities, the authenticity in the city, and the heritagization of what could be attractive to capital. Finally, using quantitative spatial analysis, I evaluate how the increase in real estate prices in the Centro Histórico is impacting, as a ripple effect, the changes in housing prices in the rest of the city and, as a result, disrupting the affordability of housing for lower-income families.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)