I specialize in the visual, material, and literary cultures of 20th-century and 21st-century Latin America, with a focus on Mexico and Brazil. My research broadly considers how cultural production indexes and drives historical change in the design of cities and environments, engaging discussions in 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. My work is grounded in the cultural narratives and artistic lexicons of Mexico and Brazil, and at the same time draws attention to the problematics of national culture in light of the social exclusions wrought by uneven capitalist modernization.
Currently, I am completing my doctoral dissertation, titled Contested Territories: The Aesthetics and Politics of Urban Design in Mexico and Brazil, 1963-88.
The project traces creative exchanges between artists, architects, filmmakers, and the
inhabitants of peripheral urban zones. Situated just after the apogee of major national modernization programs in both countries, the study considers the stakes of aesthetic experimentation in environments shaped by intensified labor exploitation, racial subordination, and ecological precarity. I argue that the period’s experimental art moved beyond modernist aesthetic concerns with the representation of the city toward concrete engagements with problems of urban design. This work not only captured perceptions of rapidly changing urban environments, but also redefined urban design as a terrain of popular political and aesthetic contestation rather than elite technical administration. The dissertation animates the archives of cultural production from the “long seventies,” and at the same time proposes concepts for understanding urban design amidst a broader transition from industrial to flexible capital accumulation in the terrain of the city. Mirroring the ethos of the period’s experimental art, I focus on collectively-authored projects by Arquitectura Autogobierno, Arquitetura Nova, Espacio Escultórico, Gucadigose, and Tepito Arte Acá, as well as on the collaborative practices of Luna Alkalay, Ozualdo Candeias, Melquiades Herrera, and Aloysio Raulino.