My research is located at the intersection of urban sociology, the sociology of labor and work, and political sociology. I am interested in understanding the role of urban space in the livelihood strategies, collective identities, and social reproduction of urban communities. Particularly, I ask how these connections are constructed over time and how they shape development, conflict, politics, and collective action in urban contexts. I use qualitative methods – ethnography, interviews, and archival analysis – to understand how communities' experience of the city shapes their understandings of rights in place and influences how, when, and why they mobilize to protect these rights. I employ comparative research design to trace variation in the alignments of people and space across place, paying particular attention to differences between cities in the Global North and Global South.
My dissertation builds on research I conducted for my Master's thesis, in which I use the case of collective action by residents of two pueblos originario (original town) neighborhoods in Mexico City to interrogate how the collective experience of urbanization shapes contemporary mobilization against displacement. I use the concept of moral economy to trace the consolidation of collective identity among residents, a shared understanding of their rights and responsibilities in urban space, and a consensus as to the proper role of the state in protecting those rights. I argue that residents' articulation of an inherited right to urban space flows from this particular moral economy of urbanization. These findings provide insights into how rapid urbanization in post-colonial societies might shape contemporary movements against displacement in the context of deepening inequality and accelerating gentrification. Furthermore, this study contributes to our understanding of how salient identities in social movements are constructed and consolidated through the interplay of material, structural, and subjective processes.