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Graduate Student
Alumni Building 402 ;

About Julio

I am originally from El Salvador, but migrated to Austin, Texas in 2008, where I carried out studies in economics and Latin American Studies. I moved to Chapel Hill in 2017 to pursue a PhD in anthropology. For the past seven years, I've been committed to study the intricacies of capitalist urbanization in El Salvador and its socio-ecological implications. My interest stems from a fascination with my country's political history and its connection to what is commonly known as "the land question". Since colonization, land in El Salvador has undergone multiple cycles of appropriation and exploitation which have led to persistent patterns of inequality and structural violence. My interest in this issue has led me to form part of a broader community of scholars concerned with the place of land politics in the current global economic and ecological crisis.

Research Interests

Urban political ecology, rentier capitalism, real estate financialization, land and water politics, critical agrarian studies, El Salvador and Central America

Research Background

My research centers on the political ecology of real estate speculation. I am particularly interested in the relationship between real estate markets, land use change and processes of land-water grabbing. I contend that the ubiquitous expansion of real estate constitutes a global-scale reorganization of property and use rights over ecosystems which is essential to the formation of rentier capitalism. My dissertation explores the case of Nuevo Cuscatlán, a coffee town in El Salvador which in the past twenty years has become the target of an aggressive gentrification process. In this project, I analyze the socio-ecological and political dynamics mediating the transition from farmland to urban real estate. I am gradually engaging in a new project concerning the question of land reform and its rethinking for financialized landscapes affected by speculative dynamics.


MA, Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 2017; BA Economics, University of Texas at Austin, 2013

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