Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Antoinette T. Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca K. Zarger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anand Kumar, Ph.D.


Environmental justice, Hygiene, Infrastructural violence, Sanitation, Structural violence, Water


This dissertation describes the forces that shape the perceptions and practices in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) services in the community of Sulphur Springs, Tampa, Florida. It also explores how these forces, perceptions, and practices produce adverse experiences and inequalities in water, sewer, drainage, and laundry services. This ethnographic study combines participant observation, ethnographic interviewing, freelisting, oral history, and GIS to uncover the context, experiences, and perceptions about WaSH in Sulphur Springs. The study finds that the present conditions and perceptions about WaSH are embedded into the historical contexts—especially racial segregation, the construction of the interstate, and multiple economic downturns in the neighborhood. Collectively, these forces have influenced the demographic, socioeconomic, and infrastructural makeup of the community, but also shaped conversations about WaSH. These forces also intersect to create a climate of silence and a lack of collective voice, further complicating the WaSH situation for underserved and marginalized groups. The study reveals that the aging infrastructures mean WaSH amenities break down frequently, and that is made worse by hands-off governance styles by last-mile service providers. For water, the concerns are primarily about water quality, while solid waste problems and inadequate drainage infrastructures constitute drainage concerns. Unfortunately, residents with low-income and in rental housing units were the ones who bear the brunt of WaSH service insecurity in Sulphur Springs. This project gives an account of people's experiences but also seeks to contribute to ongoing efforts to confront the challenges that stand in the way of the residents' water, sanitation, and hygiene goals.