In the Dominican Republic, el campo (the countryside) holds a positive value due to its important role in the cultural history of the nation. In contrast, el barrio (meaning a poor urban neighbourhood) is viewed as characterized by material and social degradation. Migrants from the countryside to Santo Domingo's barrios find that they lose their moral status, instead being cast as criminals and delinquents.
To counter their displacement, migrants must negotiate a more prestigious place in social imaginings of the city’s present. Although barrio residents generally agree that the barrios— and the city—are dangerous, they reject totalizing representations of barrio residents as immoral.
They assert a morality that is bound up with traditional rural values: family life, hard work, and religiosity. Memories of their rural past form an integral part of their imaginings of themselves as moral people with a legitimate place in the city. In this sense memory can offer a form of resistance to the urban moral order, albeit one that is ultimately bounded by normative understandings of space and morality.