Fighting for the Right to Remain in Los Filtros: Place Attachment and Expropriation Efforts in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

dc.contributorSmith, Preston
dc.contributorMarkley, Michelle
dc.contributor.advisorHouston, Serin
dc.contributor.authorOliveras-Rodríguez, Carola
dc.description.abstractMy thesis research examines the complex relationships between place, land, power, and space for the community of Los Filtros in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Los Filtros was founded in the 1920s as one of the communities that emerged from massive rural to urban migration in Puerto Rico. As Guaynabo became modernized during the last two decades of the 20th century, urban sprawl and land commodification pressures trapped Los Filtros and other informalized communities in the municipio inside a context of socioeconomic inequity. In an effort to homogenize Guaynabo’s population by socioeconomic class through strongly supporting upscale gated communities and privatizing space, Guaynabo’s municipal government has actively sought to expropriate Los Filtros’ residents since 2001. However, Los Filtros remains in place today. Despite Guaynabo’s municipal government’s power and intense outside economic pressures that foster displacement, Los Filtros community members have resisted and fought long-sustained expropriation efforts for two decades. To understand Los Filtros’ long-standing lucha (fight) and strategies for remaining in place, I investigate the scope of municipal government-led expropriation efforts in Los Filtros and the broader context of inequity that intensified such efforts. I draw upon two primary methods to advance my research, namely semi-structured interviews that I held with nine Los Filtros community members and nine non-community members in the summer of 2021 and research in three different archives. Based on my data, I argue that in a context where land privatization and spatial homogenization are predominant pressures, Los Filtros community members’ strong place attachment has sustained their resistance to Guaynabo’s municipal government’s neoliberal practices, driven their efforts to claim a right to the city, and compelled their advocacy for equitable development. My research offers an analysis of Los Filtros’ fight that centers people-place connections as a basis for understanding activism at large. Los Filtros community members engaged in social activism that challenged the elite’s imposition of spatial order by reasserting their right to determine their community’s future and, more generally, their right to the city. Therefore, this case study of Los Filtros contributes to important discussions about who is valuable in the city and how social justice is practiced at the urban scale.en_US
dc.subjectLos Filtrosen_US
dc.subjectPuerto Ricoen_US
dc.subjectPlace attachmenten_US
dc.titleFighting for the Right to Remain in Los Filtros: Place Attachment and Expropriation Efforts in Guaynabo, Puerto Ricoen_US
mhc.institutionMount Holyoke College


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