Theses Master's

Deconstructing the Puerto Rican Reconstruction from the Global North and South Perspective

Sibel, Katherin

Who is the Global North and South? This academic construct will be used to critically analyze Puerto Rico, and its relationship with the United States, as a case study to investigate how this false narrative affects vulnerability to climatic disasters. The following research is a compilation of my first-hand reflections as a Latina community planner having lived, worked, and studied in Puerto Rico from 2018 until 2020. This academic endeavor was a cathartic experience in collecting the stories of American and Boricua recovery workers engaged in the Hurricane Maria disaster response and recovery from September 2017 until present day. Hurricane Maria was a humanitarian crisis surrounded by intense media coverage, controversy, and scandal due to both the federal and state governmentís lack of action or adequacy.

This research uncovers major challenges and themes to post-disaster recovery, and to what extent does Puerto Rico's historical relationship with the United States affects such challenges. Consequently, why experimenting disaster recovery doctrines, priorities, and practices from the Global North complicates recovery planning. Content and thematic analysis was dually constructed into a Global North and South perspective through conducting text mining and sentiment analysis of recovery documents and interviews. Doing so, deconstructs whether there exists an 'us' versus 'them' or 'othering' dynamic in recovery planning.

Limiting the scope to Hurricane Maria recovery workers and leaders amplifies their personal stories of spiritual resilience and first-hand observations on the recovery challenges and policies being applied to the Puerto Rico. More importantly, it informs how societal and structural racism contributes to disaster risk. The Global South perceptions and frustrations of post-disaster recovery challenges are modern-day colonial systems manifested through the federal reconstruction projects and reporting. In summary, this research uncovers why all these present-day systems collectively prevent(ed) communities from receiving the funding, planning, engagement, and investment necessary to adequately recover and progress toward equitable recovery goals.

Geographic Areas


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2024-09-30.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sarmiento, Hugo
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022