I 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.