Joaquin VillanuevaFaculty

Associate Professor/ Co-chair in Environment Geography and Earth, Teaches in Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies, and Co-director in Peace Studies

I conducted my B.A. at the University of Puerto Rico. I majored in Modern Languages (French and Italian) and minored in Geography. Having spent a semester abroad in France I developed an interest in France's immigration and assimilation policies. I decided to study the lives, experiences, and relationships of various immigrant groups in France through the discipline of geography. In 2003 I began my M.A. degree in the Geography Department at Syracuse University. There I studied the politics of public space in Paris with a special focus on the inclusion/exclusion of minority groups in the new Les Halles, a centrally located public park in Paris. I continued in the Geography Department at Syracuse University for my Ph.D.

For my dissertation, I explored contemporary crime-control policies implemented in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the outskirts of Paris. Social housing estates located at the outskirts of Paris have tended to concentrate high rates of poverty, unemployment, and crime among a population, the majority of immigrant extraction, that has not been able to fully integrate to France.  In my research I explored the ways in which populations in social housing estates in Seine-Saint-Denis, northeastern suburb of Paris, cope with high levels of socio-spatial exclusion. I explored, among many other factors, the eruption of occasional 'riots' in Seine-Saint-Denis.

One of the most interesting observations I made was the increasing mobility of the courts as they attempt to prevent future 'riots' in the French urban landscape. Generally speaking, we seldom see the courts moving across the urban landscape to impart justice. We often see the police moving around, but the courts tend to be 'fixed' in a specific location. In France, the criminal justice system has begun to mobilize judicial personnel in disadvantaged neighborhoods in an attempt to prosecute wrong-doers and bring the law of the state closer to 'problem-areas'. 

I am politically motivated by a concern with social justice. As such, in my work I am continually trying to answer the question 'who has the right to the city'? My persistence to answer this question has expanded my research interests to the fields of urban, political, economic, cultural, and legal geographies. 

I am now beginning a new project that explores the origins of the debt crisis in Puerto Rico. Drawing on Frantz Fanon's revolutionary work, the project explores the transformation of the urban landscape by the Puerto Rico Planning Board in the 1940s. It underscores how the Planning Board, from its inception, designed cities that privileged the urbanization of capital and the alienation of the wretched of the earth.  

I teach courses in human geography, including: world regional geography; introduction to human geography; urban geography; political geography; geographies of peace, crime, and violence; and sports geography.


Ph.D Syracuse University


Reading, Traveling, and Movies

Courses Taught

GEG-101 (Human Geography), GEG-215 (Political Geography), and GEG-242 (Research Methods)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
GEG-101 Human Geography 16 2023/SP, 2022/FA, 2022/SP, 2021/FA, 2021/JN, 2020/FA, 2019/SP, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2017/SP, 2016/FA, 2015/FA, 2015/SP, 2014/FA, 2014/SP, and 2013/FA
GEG-236 Urban Geography 6 2022/FA, 2020/FA, 2017/FA, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, and 2013/FA
GEG-242 Research Methods 5 2021/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2016/SP, and 2015/SP
GEG-336 Urban and Regional Analysis 3 2023/SP, 2021/SP, and 2014/FA
GEG-309 Geographies of Peace 3 2022/SP, 2019/SP, and 2017/SP
GEG-215 Political Geography 3 2016/FA, 2016/SP, and 2015/SP
GEG-225 Race & Space in U.S. 2 2022/SP and 2021/SP
GEG-244 ST:Race/Space in USA 2 2019/SP and 2017/SP
PCS-211 Introduction to Peace Studies 2 2018/FA and 2016/FA
GEG-344 ST:Geog of Peace/Crime 2 2015/FA and 2014/SP
GEG-115 Sports Geography 2 2015/JN and 2014/JN
GEG-102 World Regional Geography 2 2014/SP and 2013/FA