Infrastructures of Citizenship: Nicaraguan Migrants, Street Politics, and the Crafting of Urban Belonging Through Service Infrastructure in Costa Rica
Nikolai Alvarado, Geography and Geographic Information Science
Tuesday, April 26, 1-1:50 PM, Rm 223 Temple Buell Hall
In this presentation I analyze the connections between self-installed infrastructures for basic services and the political subjectification of noncitizen migrants in informal settlements. I use the case of Nicaraguan migrants in La Carpio, in San José Costa Rica, to reflect how struggles over urban infrastructure open spaces of political possibilities, produce new migrant-state relations, and institute alternative ways of belonging for those who legally do not belong. This citizenship through infrastructure serves as a concept to flesh out the variegated ways in which noncitizen migrants reproduce their lives in under-resourced urban spaces even while not recognized as subject of rights at the national level. While there has been a widespread infrastructural turn in urban studies, such development is yet to be embraced fully within the critical citizenship studies (CCS) literature that focuses on noncitizen migrants. This, in part, is due to the global North bias of critical citizenship studies, which largely emerged looking at migrant experiences in the US and Europe where the shaping of different citizenship forms may not revolve around struggles commonly experienced in informal settlements. Given the prevalence of South-South over South-North migration, CCS scholarship is in need of other “geographies of theory” that can better reflect the diversity of migrant experiences globally (Roy 2009). Through the case of Nicaraguan migrants in La Carpio, I bring these two literatures into conversation and explore what the experiences of noncitizen migrants in this informal community can tell us about citizenship, politics, and migrant-state relations more broadly.