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Title: Overflowing Architecture: Home, Neighborhood and Nation in Mexico's Modern Experience
Authors: Landa Ruiloba, Pablo
Advisors: Boon, James A
Biehl, Joao G
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Architecture
Nation State
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Latin American studies
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Unidad Santa Fe (USF), dedicated in 1957, is a housing and social services complex for 2,200 families in western Mexico City. Commissioned by the Mexican Social Security Institute from architect Mario Pani, it was as an agent and showcase of national progress. Starting in 1982, the project was sold to its residents, heralding reforms that liberalized the country’s economy and coincided with political fragmentation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in USF, archival research, and interpretations of photographs, buildings, and literary texts, this dissertation debunks popular notions that put forth space as an a priori category from which communities follow, suggesting instead that architecture emerges hand-in-hand with the practices and representations of its occupants. Initiatives to manage community life, accounts of the past, engagements with state institutions, and everyday interactions in the project show that shifting groups and relations, and not autonomous citizens, give shape to social and urban settings. Local perspectives offer alternatives to both expectations of democratization and indictments of Mexico as irreparably ruined. By exploring breaks and intersections among solidarities and built forms, this dissertation elucidates connections among family homes and histories, as well as among neighborhood identities and infrastructural configurations. By detecting participation in social life and city development beyond official realms, the text reveals urban spaces as shaped by acts of inclusion and exclusion and never as simply “public.” Shifts in genre, scale, and time demonstrate how narration of divergent versions of the past and present is linked to the circulation of power and the formation of groups, in processes with roots in the 20th century. Upon USF’s dedication, residents collaborated with officials in constructing an image of modern Mexico by playing the part of ideal state subjects. Their actions qualify analyses that suggest planning is invariably a top-down imposition. Despite changes in government, people in Mexico City continue negotiating their positions with respect to each other and to authorities by crafting representations of facts and experiences and denouncing those by others. By attending to these practices of meaning-making and their physical manifestations, this dissertation proposes an anthropological approach to the study of the built environment.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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