Life Above, Rubble Below

A Case of Historically Produced Risk & Perception in Mexico City


  • María Moreno Carranco
  • Beki Mcelvain



Mexico city, history, perception


Mexico City’s periphery is home to marginalized communities, and mainly constituted of autoconstructed houses built along the dried lakebed of Lake Texcoco. These settlements are subjected to amplified earthquake risk because of below-ground soil conditions in the lakebed beneath them, which makes them an ideal place to study the social production of risk. In Colonia del Mar, Tláhuac, people believe their community is built atop rubble dumped there after the 1985 earthquake. It is said the government illegally dumped debris from collapsed structures into the lakebed swamp that would be urbanized as Colonia del Mar. In 2017, another major earthquake caused structural collapses and damage along the lakebed edge, and especially in Colonia del Mar. This paper explores the factual possibility for these below-ground conditions and argues that approaches for relocation and rebuilding in Mexico City’s periphery are profoundly informed by historical processes that socially produce risk in marginalized areas.