We are seeking a third presenter for a panel on twentieth century urban history of the Americas for the 2015 AHA conference in New York City, January 2-5, 2015. The deadline is February 15, 2014. If interested, contact Sandra Enríquez at email@example.com. Below is a brief abstract of the anticipated panel proposal.
Modernization, Urban Space, and Marginal Communities in the Americas
Using approaches from other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology allows urban historians to reconstruct the experiences of marginalized residents from urban areas. Focusing on places with a long history of modernization efforts, this panel endeavors to create a transnational dialogue about cities and shift the emphasis of urban studies of the Americas from the megapolises of Mexico City, São Paulo, New York, and Chicago to mid-sized metropolitan areas that represent the rule rather than the exception of urbanization. These understudied cities demonstrate the divergent experiences of urban centers that continuously struggle with modernizing policies involving housing, public health, and infrastructure. This panel addresses how top-down visions of modernity ignored the realities of working people living in city centers. Specifically, how modernizing elites, who reflected a racial minority of the population, overlooked the basic structural necessities of lower class residents. This panel argues that owing in large part to the long duree of modernization in these areas, the non-elite population understood the language of modernity and used it in their attempts to improve their standards of living, to gain basic infrastructure, and achieve political and socio-economic mobility.
Stephanie Parham is a PhD Candidate at Tulane University. Her project focuses on how working residents of mid-twentieth century Guatemala City used the rhetoric of the country’s modernizing elite in their efforts to address the structural inequalities of urban life.
Sandra Enríquez is a PhD Candidate at the University of Houston. Her project examines Mexican American urban protests against revitalization projects in Post-war El Paso, Texas.
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