Department or Program

Environmental Studies


In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, billions of dollars in damage, and profoundly altering the lives of those who survived the storm. The destruction that manifested after Maria and the island’s slow recovery from the storm is not a product of only the hurricane, but of a history of colonialism and slow violence. Slow violence, a term coined by Rob Nixon that juxtaposes forms of spectacular and conventional violence, is a critical concept in understanding Puerto Rico’s history and its path of recovery from Hurricane Maria. In this thesis, I examine photographs taken in Puerto Rico after Maria through a lens of slow violence. Through an analysis of images from a variety of photographers and sources, I ask the questions: How does photography from Hurricane Maria convey the slow violence exposed by the storm and wrought by longer processes of colonialism characteristic of the island’s relationship with the United States? And, more broadly, is photography as a medium a productive way to access depictions of slow violence and make them more visible? After performing a methodological analysis of 35 images, which I divide into four thematic categories, I argue that varying visualities of slow violence can be extracted from each image; however, the visibility of slow violence in these images ultimately depends on the context in which they are found and the viewer’s own understanding of slow violence.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Jane Costlow

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.