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Title: A Campus for Mexico: Knowledge and Power in UNAM's University City
Authors: Mack, Jessica Robin
Advisors: Adelman, Jeremy
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Ciudad Universitaria
higher education
urban history
Subjects: Latin American history
Latin American studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In June of 1950, the first stone was ceremoniously placed on a construction site several kilometers south of Mexico City’s center. Building had officially begun on a long-imagined campus for the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM): the utopian Ciudad Universitaria, or University City. By tracing its spatial reconfiguration on a new modernist campus, this dissertation explains the national university’s shifting role in Mexico’s developing revolutionary state and examines the ways in which new national priorities were inscribed upon intellectual and cultural life. The largest university in Latin America, with over 330,000 students today and a sprawling 2,500-acre urban campus, UNAM has trained Mexico’s most powerful decision makers, set the terms of public debates and posed questions that have shaped decades of policy. It is also an important channel through which citizens have participated—with both consent and contestation—in Mexico’s twentieth-century public life. Although it is an icon of modern Mexico, we know surprisingly little about UNAM’s historical role in shaping the social landscape and the reproduction of power. From the earliest imaginings of a utopian lettered city immediately after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), this project traces the long twentieth-century arc of Ciudad Universitaria’s creation alongside the national university’s turbulent relationship with the revolutionary state. As the prominent modernist architects of Ciudad Universitaria solidified the ruling party’s interpretation of the revolution in stone, social justice and agrarian reform were replaced by a new set of priorities. In conversation with a growing body of scholarship on Mexico’s midcentury, the dissertation explores how this monumental state building project spatially manifested the ruling party’s vision for Mexico’s future and was made possible by its new priorities of urbanization, industrialization and developmentalism. From imagining and planning the campus in the late 1940s to its rapid construction from 1950-1954, the dissertation uses the archives of planners, architects, local residents and bureaucrats to reveal new modes of operating. Once students and faculty arrived, the project traces intellectual and social reconfiguration at Ciudad Universitaria, changes that would reshape Mexico City’s urban landscape and realign contestation in national politics into the late twentieth century.
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:History

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