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Pablo Seward

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Pablo Seward

Dissertation Writer
Research Interests: 
Decolonial urbanism; urban political ecology; risk and security; social movements; urban citizenship; migration and racism; neo/liberal governance; critical phenomenology; Latin America; Chile.


I am broadly interested in how grassroots movements of the urban poor in Latin America challenge the colonial/racial layouts of Latin American cities and the modernist and liberal rationalities that underpin them. My dissertation project focuses on Antofagasta, the capital of Chile's foreign-owned copper mining industry, where over the last decade predominantly Black and Indigenous migrants from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador have built dozens of informal settlements that city authorities consider unfit for human habitation and therefore subject to eviction and resettlement. With the support of local and international housing rights groups, migrant residents have created a series of autonomous organizations that, on the basis of their own initiatives to produce knowledge about, govern, and develop their settlements, claim the right to stay put and refuse resettlement. In this process, migrant activists have come to portray their settlements as not only technically habitable but also as havens from the widespread anti-immigrant racial violence and discrimination that has proliferated in Chile and Antofagasta in particular. Through research with both migrant activists and officials working for Antofagasta's city government and other governing bodies, I explore the possibilities and limitations of city dwellers using their own embodied and place-based knowledge of the urban environment to challenge an increasingly hegemonic politics of risk and security to govern cities in Latin America.

Prior to my doctoral work, I earned a B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from UC Berkeley and made an illustrated documentary film in Easter Island, Chile, based on my undergraduate thesis work. I also pursued a doctoral project on Christian addiction treatment ministries in informal settlements in Peru.