Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2024

Document Type




First Advisor

Mae-ling Lokko

Second Advisor

Keller Easterling


Upon their arrival in the Americas in the sixteenth century, Spanish colonizers encountered a tropical climate previously unknown to Europeans. In the four hundred years of their empire, the colonizers set themselves on a collision course of maladaptation, violence towards Indigenous people, and erasure of their knowledge. Unsettling Climate investigates the domestic constructions of Spanish colonization in the tropics during the colonization of the Americas and the Philippines. Using case studies from patio houses in Cartagena in Colombia and bahay na bato (houses of stone) in the Philippines, this project analyzes the relationship between the natural environment, domestic space, and social hierarchies in the colonial realm. Two transitional chapters accompany these case studies. In the first one, I describe the evolution of patio houses in the Iberian Peninsula and the spread across the Spanish Empire. In the second, I investigate the influence of early modern colonization in the construction of new climatic epistemologies. Historical chronicles, maps, ordinances with paleoclimate information, floor plans, building sections, and environmental simulations constitute some of the evidence assembled to reconstruct these histories and track environmental dynamics in relation to building technologies. The unsettling urban climate constructed by the Spaniards fixed the spatial imaginaries in the contemporary imaginaries but also highlights the potential to disrupt this colonial entanglement in the future.