Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Anna J. Secor

Second Advisor

Dr. Tad Mutersbaugh


This dissertation contributes to understandings of the affective and emotional register of urban politics by analyzing how affective dynamics influence struggles over displacement in Mexico City amid rapid gentrification and in the wake of the 2017 earthquake. Drawing primarily on feminist and queer/cuir theory and trauma studies, I aim to show the relevance of an often-overlooked dimension of urban political struggles. This dissertation is based on data collected through ethnographic methods over the course of 2018-2021. The primary source of data is long-form semi-structured interviews, supported by participant observation in meetings, protests, and WhatsApp groups. The dissertation studies the following questions: What is the role of affect and emotion in political shifts? How does affect impact (intentionally or not) individuals and the collective agency of the marginalized? What are some emotional and affective tools for resisting or even fighting back against urban injustice like gentrification and displacement?

The first article explains the relationship between affect, trauma, and urban politics in the context of gentrification and natural disaster. In it I argue for the importance of pausing in the wake of disaster as new political imaginaries are forming: this chaotic moment is affectively intense and offers unique possibility for birthing new approaches to ongoing urban struggles. The second article, written in collaboration with Paula Soto from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, examines eviction as both a gendered and racialized expulsion from the center city. In it, we discuss the effects of forced displacement on the mobility and immobility of racialized women, centering accessibility to the city, feelings of insecurity, and the emotional experiences of expulsion. The third article examines the emotional upheaval of an eviction in the personal life of a tenant as well as the ways it ripples into their social lives. I argue that shame is a disciplining force that isolates women tenants, turning them in on themselves, foreclosing collective action, and bringing about significant material costs as a result of decisions made in the intense and shameful moment of a set-out. I argue that this spatiality of shame can be inverted into a fragile pride, but a longer-lasting transformation occurs through diminishing the power of shame by taking the subject on a roundabout movement in relationships towards parts of the self that already hold personal value and pride.

With this work I hope to show that in the context of gentrification and eviction in Mexico City, the spatiality of the affective register plays a key role in the way that urban politics take form. I hope that this work has political reverberations in housing policy. The proposal in article 60 of the Mexico City constitution to set a distance limitation on evictions began to address the issue of expulsion, but was later stripped from the document. I hope work like this is helpful in the push for a return of that provision. I hope activists benefit from these findings about affective dynamics to strengthen movements, create the conditions for change, and counteract the affective imposition of the current oppressive paradigm of housing.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Fulbright-Garcia Robles Fellowship 2019-2020

Philanthropic Educational Organization International Scholar Award 2020-2021

College of Arts and Sciences Fellowship, University of Kentucky 2017, 2018

Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Travel Grant, University of Kentucky 2018, 2020

Barnhart/Withington Funding 2016-2019

Available for download on Monday, May 06, 2024