specialize in the visual, material, and literary cultures of 20th-century and
21st-century Latin America. My research broadly considers how cultural
production indexes and drives historical change in the design of cities and
environments, drawing methods from literary and cultural studies, art and
design history, and urban and environmental humanities. I am motivated by
questions of race, ecology, and political economy as experienced by
heterogeneous social subjects in the environments surrounding them. While my
work is informed by expertise on the cultural narratives and artistic lexicons
of Mexico and Brazil, I most often attend to objects and histories marginalized
under frameworks of national culture. Across my research, I articulate
comparative and hemispheric frameworks in order to discern social, material,
and aesthetic phenomena that intersect with, yet are not encompassed by, the nation-state.
In my current
research project, Contested Territories: The Aesthetics and Politics of
Urban Design in Mexico and Brazil, 1963-88, I study experimental art,
architecture, and film projects carried out in peripheral urban zones in the
wake of major infrastructural modernization programs.
These projects, I argue, reflected a redefinition of design as a field of both political
contestation and aesthetic experimentation,
fundamentally revising modernist notions of representation and technical expertise.
I address historical conflicts over urban space and infrastructure alongside formal
shifts in artistic language and technique, analyzing practices including
architectural drawing, film editing and mise-en-scène, public art, and
vernacular print and design culture. I show how experimental art critically
engaged the evolving forms and ideologies of official modernization programs
and, to varying ends, absorbed lessons from the spatial and material practices
of popular social groups.
Objects include the
design practices of Arquitetura Nova and Arquitectura Autogobierno, the
filmmaking of Ozualdo Candeias and Aloysio Raulino, the public art of Helen
Escobedo and Ángela Gurría, and the textual and spatial interventions of
Melquiades Herrera and Daniel Manrique.