Dr. Sarah Lopez, associate professor, built environment historian, and migration scholar in the School of Architecture, has received a Dumbarton Oaks Research Fellowship for the 2021-22 academic year. As part of the prestigious fellowship, Lopez will travel to Washington D.C. this September and spend the next nine months in residence at Dumbarton Oaks examining how Mexican individuals and families are transforming U.S. streets and neighborhoods.
Lopez’s research project, Architectural History as Migrant History: The Development of a Binational Construction Industry from Below, focuses on the development of a network of Mexican stonemasons, quarry workers, home builders, architects, and businessmen who provide services to Mexican and Mexican American clientele in the southwestern United States. This binational construction industry has emerged around the excavation, transportation, distribution, and installation of cantera stone. Unique to Mexico and found in approximately ten states, cantera stone was reserved for powerful political and religious elites from the sixteenth century through the turn of the twentieth century. Since at least the 1970s, and increasingly since the 1990s, Mexican migrants who settled in the US have begun to implement ways to bring the stone north.
Cantera networks, and the buildings and landscapes transformed by the cantera details, provide a unique lens through which Dr. Lopez examines how Mexican individuals and families are transforming U.S. streets and neighborhoods. Beyond aesthetics, this industry is changing migrants’ structural relationships to places. The project also explores normative ideas of class, transnationalism, intra-ethnic conflict, and environmental change to present the role that Mexicans have played and continue to play in making American cities and towns.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. The mission of the Dumbarton Oaks fellowship program is to facilitate, disseminate, and advance research in the Humanities. Residential fellowships are awarded in the fields of Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian Studies to scholars from around the world.