Sara Isabel Castro Font

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Los Angeles, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10409

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Castro Font, Sara Isabel (California, Los Angeles, U. of) "Sensing Urban Renewal: Aesthetics and Latinx (Un)Belonging in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles and in Santurce, Puerto Rico"

I propose a multi-sited ethnography in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles and in Santurce, Puerto Rico to inquire about how aesthetic practices transform values and index visions of citizenship and belonging in U.S. Latinx urban spaces undergoing arts-led development. I view aesthetic practices as judgements and choices (e.g. linguistic choices and patterns of food, drink, music and art consumption) people make as ways of expressing identity or senses of belonging. As sites of dwelling and consumption, I explore how these Latinx urban spaces are experienced by and branded for different groups. Bridging semiotic and linguistic anthropological work with linguistic landscapes, I analyze how language co-articulates with material-sensuous qualities that produce value and senses of (un)belonging. I employ participant observation in restaurants, as they are curated sites where language combines with art, music, food, and drinks to attract certain groups of people, as well as interviews and audiovisual documentation to analyze the role of language and semiotic devices in transforming experiences and values of urban spaces. This foregrounds the role of language in shaping people’s experiences and affective entanglements with place, and forges understandings of how experiences are used to re-brand Latinx urban spaces for outside consumers within contemporary neoliberal political economy.