Housing, citizenship and aspirations: neoliberalism, self-making and everyday life politics within Gran Santiago

This research line explores the process of self-making among poor urban residents by interrogating the role of housing in the reproduction of everyday life in a neoliberal city. We specifically delve into how, in a context in which housing has become a commodity that the poor acquire in the private market, Chilean pobladores (low-income residents) and migrant population living in Santiago, Chile articulate their aspirations for housing, homeownership, and/or a life with dignity in terms of rights and citizenship. To do so, we’re conducting ethnographic observation in a wide range of urban neighborhoods, including squatter settlements (“campamentos”), autoconstructed neighborhoods (“poblaciones”), subsidized housing units, and inner-city tenements (“conventillos). This research line seeks thus to examine the transverse logics operating in the urban poor’s claims for housing by both scrutinizing the technologies of government that turn them into “market citizens” (Schild 2000) and reflecting on the insurgencies, resistances, and struggles that such demands allow.


Miguel Pérez Ahumada • Main Researcher

I hold a BA in Social Anthropology (University of Chile), a MA in Urban Development (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), and a PhD in Anthropology (University of California, Berkeley). Drawing primarily on ethnographic methods, my research interests focus on cities and citizenship; housing struggles and right-to-the city movements; migration; subject and subjectivity; and, more broadly, the politics of urban life. As part of this Anillos, I’m currently working on two main projects. First, a book manuscript (Housing the Poor: City making, Citizenship, and Dignity in urban Chile) which examines how, in a context of neoliberal urbanization, poor dwellers’ aspirations for homeownership constitute them as ethical-political subjects capable of demanding rights and dignity from the state. Second, a multi-sited ethnographic study of how migrants living in different residential conditions, by engaging in city-making processes, negotiate the ways in which they are constituted as subjects-citizens by the state apparatuses.

Pablo Briceño • Postdoctoral Researcher

PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh. My main research interests are the politics of everyday life, the establishment of ethical boundaries and the production of relationships and personhood in the daily life of popular people in Chile. In particular I am interested in how people from low income neighbourhoods manage to conduct their lives according to their ethical and political principles in the current highly contradictory neoliberal context. In the recent past, I have carried out extended ethnographic research in población La Victoria, located in Pedro Aguirre Cerda district, Santiago. As a postdoctoral researcher of Proyecto ENA, I will also conduct ethnographic research in the same district but concentrating on the ways that individualism, consumerism and economic success are experienced and interpreted everyday within the homes and streets of popular neighbourhoods. 

Cristóbal Palma • Research Assistant

I hold a BA in Anthropology (Alberto Hurtado University) and am currently studying a MA in Sociology at the Alberto Hurtado University. I’m an adjunct professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the Alberto Hurtado University and the Catholic Silva Henríquez University. My research interests include urban anthropology, migration, subjectivity, and urban margins. I’m currently conducting an ethnographic study of how migrant families access housing in different areas of Santiago.