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18:00 - 19:30 25 January 2018

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico's Not-So-Natural Disaster


Lecture Room 103 | UCL – Institute of the Americas (link Map)
51 Gordon Square | London | WC1H 0PQ | United Kingdom

Open to: Alumni | Public | Academic | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential

Speaker information

Dr Patria Roman, Senior Lecturer Media & Creative Industries, Loughborough University, Dr. Patria Roman. Currently a Senior Lecturer in Media & Creative Industries at Loughborough University, first arrived in the UK in 1992 to study at University of Leicester where she obtained her PhD in 1996. Her early childhood was marked by her experience of growing up between the rural town of Moca in Puerto Rico and the Latin neighbourhoods of NY, Chicago and Philadelphia. This experience has informed her research with Latin Americans in London and she has built on this to found and direct Latin Elephant, a charity working to increase participation of migrant and ethnic groups, in particular Latin Americans, in processes of urban change in London. She is the author of The Making of Latin London: Music, Place and Identity (1999) and of n
Dr Melissa Fernandez, Lecturer in Urban Futures, Lancaster University, Dr. Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia, born and raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, is a Lecturer in Urban Futures at Lancaster University's Sociology Department. Following her BA in Tufts University, she obtained an MSc in International Development and Gender and a PhD in Sociology from the LSE. In between, she worked in international human rights organisations in London, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Melissa's doctoral research focused on the activism surrounding the demolition of one of the last high rise public housing projects in the financial district of Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. She has continued to pursue work on the 'making and unmaking' of homes in other international contexts, including Rio de Janeiro, London, and South Asia, which has le
Dr Janialy Ortiz Camacho, Dr. Janialy Ortiz Camacho is a socio-cultural anthropologist with higher education studies and ethnographic experience in Puerto Rico, Canada and Spain. Her most recent research has focused on people’s responses to governmental community development projects, and the production of political subjectivities in Puerto Rico. She is also passionate about expanding fieldwork insights into a more public-democratic platform, using visual and creative writing forms. Janialy currently lives in Cambridge, UK.
Dr Gibran Cruz-Martinez, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Agder, Norway, Dr. Gibrán Cruz-Martínez is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Global Development and Planning, University of Agder (Norway). After finishing his undergraduate studies in his native Puerto Rico he moved to Madrid to pursue a Masters and PhD in Political Science at the Complutense University. His research focuses on the development of emerging welfare states in Latin America and the Caribbean, and its relationship to multidimensional poverty and inequality. Gibrán is also interested in the role of organised communities in Puerto Rico as alternative welfare providers. A book on the latter entitled Produciendo Bienestar was recently published in Spain (Dykinson, 2017).

On Wednesday 20 September 2017 the lives of Puerto Ricans on the island and abroad changed forever. Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico as a category four storm (sustained winds of 150mph), leaving the island in a state of emergency. Essential services such as power, potable water and communication services collapsed. Flooding did not discriminate between marginalized and affluent neighborhoods. But the natural disaster uncovered the soaring levels of inequality and the commodification of disaster-related recovery for Puerto Rican residents. Access to power, adequate food, potable water, among other aspects of life, were guaranteed to individuals with access to the market. The well-being of the rest of the population rested in the hands of the federal emergency management agencies, and local citizen-led initiatives.


Oscar Martinez
+44 (0)2031089721 | ucl-ia@ucl.ac.uk


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