Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Meghan Cope


Disaster, Catastrophe, Vulnerability, Puerto Rico, Hurricane, Hurricane Maria


Although not always recognized as such, catastrophes are complicated systems that are built on the social production of vulnerability. This thesis considers how responses to catastrophes are usually built on an oversimplified understanding of what they are, and argues that more nuanced, multi-faceted understandings of catastrophes can guide us to more effective solutions. I situate my research in Mariana, a rural neighborhood located on the coastal mountains of south-eastern Puerto Rico, where, in response to the lack of aid received from the federal government following Hurricane María, leaders of the community developed the Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo (the Mutual Support Project – PAM). I explore how PAM articulates and confronts the systems of oppression and marginalization that have produced vulnerabilities in Puerto Rico over decades. Then, using the conceptual framework that I’m calling ‘dismantling vulnerability’, I analyze the organization’s response to catastrophe and the ways in which it has developed actions to address the root sources of vulnerability in efforts to move their community forward from catastrophe.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.