Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of Florida

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Florida
"No Más Combis": Urban Sociality, Public Transit Aesthetics, and Infrastructural Reform in Lima, Peru

This project explores how a large-scale transport reform project in Lima, Peru affects how residents not only experience physical distance through the city, but also reimagine social hierarchies. Lima's Transportation Reform intends to formalize much of the city's urban transit sector by restructuring existing routes, removing and renovating vehicles, and modernizing bus stops. It entails highly visible aesthetic interventions fusing claims about "modern" transit to particular sensory features, as well as publicity campaigns intended to orient public opinion about Lima's transportation landscape. Employing interview research and participant observation, this research analyzes how varied understandings of the transit reform express existing hierarchies in Lima related to race, class, and imagined geography. It also documents how transport reform discourse circulates in ways that rhetorically emphasize alterity and moral narratives regarding which behaviors, objects, and persons should belong in a cosmopolitan city. Finally, this project tracks the ways transport reform policies in Lima standardize aesthetic aspects of public transportation—shifting and homogenizing the textures, sounds, colors, and even smells encountered in transit spaces. Conceiving of the sensory experience of transit during the reform as central to its social and political effects, this research traces shifts in the aesthetic components of transportation spaces using traditional fieldnotes, ethnographic photography, and soundscape analysis. Research findings will allow for a theorization of the complex relationships between competing aesthetic orders, how urban planning policies are sensed/understood, and heterogeneous modes of being in and knowing the city.