In Noema, Lachlan Summers investigates the long-lasting effects earthquakes have had on Mexico City’s denizens — aftershocks that manage to be both physical and psychological. These are the tocado, the “touched,” forever in fear of the next stage of dissolution.

For buildings in Mexico City, destruction is seldom an absolute condition. Residents, and especially people who are tocado, attune themselves to the cues of ongoing collapse — cracks, gaps, fissures — that populate the gray area between total destruction and slower disintegration. This geophysical sense impels temporal questions: “Is this new?” “How long has it been like that?” “How long do we have left?” “When can we be certain?”