Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Towson State University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, New York University (NYU)
Making the Modern and Cultured City: Urban Planning, Architecture, and Cultural Production in Postwar São Paulo

My project explores the efforts to transform São Paulo into a modern and cultured city in the years following WWII through a transnational investigation of urban planning, architecture, and cultural production. These approaches will be examined as individual expressions of an idealized urban sensibility that a group of leading Paulistanos aspired to produce in postwar São Paulo and as comprising a broader pattern of uneven development, spatial segregation, and racial anxiety. My project seeks to illustrate how the modern and cultured city promoted by these actors was inspired by and created in dialogue with individuals and institutions involved in New York's own rise to prominence. More specifically, my project looks at how ideas about urban planning and architecture associated with New York circulating after WWII under the rubric of modern–including zoning–were selectively appropriated by engineers and architects in São Paulo to update, revitalize, and secure central areas of the city for the mostly white middle and upper class residents and to push the urban poor (mostly black and mixed race) towards the peripheries. Similarly, I examine how artists and intellectuals linked to the city's new art museums drew from and reconfigured practices associated with MoMA, including abstract art, to align São Paulo culturally with the West and to castoff the image of Brazil portrayed in figurative art which tended to highlight the country's Afro-Brazilian heritage. Equally important to my project is to explore how transformations underway in São Paulo shaped developments in New York, from MoMA's increased visibility abroad to New York's urban renewal program of the 1950s. By focusing on the networks of exchange between São Paulo and New York, and taking seriously the multidirectional flows of influence, my project seeks to illustrate how North-South elites worked together to create a shared (though not identical) vision of the modern and cultured city in the postwar period.