I am a critical urban sociologist, geographer, and political activist previously based in Manila, and currently working on a PhD The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL). I am the recipient of the 2018 DPU 60th Anniversary Doctoral Scholarship Award, as well as the 2018 Gilbert F. White Thesis Award from the Hazards, Risks and Disasters Specialty Group (HRDSG) of the American Association of Geographers (AAG).
My master’s thesis, Discourses of ‘danger zone’ evictions and the aestheticization and territorialization of disaster risk in post-Ondoy Manila, threaded the concepts of territorial stigma, aesthetic governmentality, and territoriality in: (1) tracking the genealogy of ‘danger zone’ evictions, (2) charting the production of the discourse of slum evictability in the post-Ondoy moment, and (3) explaining the phenomenon of ‘danger zone’ evictions as a technology of disaster governance and a strategy of spatial segregation and urban transformation.
My PhD research builds and expands on this previous work. It aims to weave a critical account of ‘resilient’ city-making in post-Ondoy Manila (2009-present), and in the process theorize urban transformation and dispossession beyond processes of capital accumulation in vulnerable and at-risk Southern cities. I do this through a critical genealogy and institutional ethnography of the Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan and the Informal Settler Families (ISF) Housing Program, the main proponents and primary beneficiaries of disaster-proofing the city via the systematic eviction of informal settlers, particularly along waterways.
This work on disasters and the urban draws from a strong rights and justice tradition, inherited from my activism and sharpened by my training in sociology and self-study in human geography. I understand the city primarily in terms of home, particularly who it homes and un-homes: who it protects and neglects; who it welcomes and abandons; and who, to borrow from Ben Anderson (2012), it ‘lets live’ and ‘lets die’. This is why dispossession, displacement, and deprivation are the central theme of my inquiry.
Other interests include architecture; Southern urban theory; and urban political ecologies of infrastructure, water, logistics, and land.
I tweet at @travailzen, and may be reached at email@example.com.
Anderson, Ben. 2012. “Affect and Biopower: Towards a Politics of Life.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37(1):28-43.