We are pleased to announce that on Tuesday, November 12, Dr. Matthew Vitz will be presenting the inaugural lecture of the SM Born Lecture on Environmental Planning and Stewardship Series! The lecture will begin at 5pm in the Alumni Lounge at the Pyle Center, with light refreshments following the lecture. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, the Wisconsin Student Planning Association, the UniverCity Alliance, and the University Lectures Department.
Dr. Vitz’s lecture, A Socio-Environmental History of Urban Expertise: Nature, Planning and Justice in Mexico City and Beyond, will offer a new historical take on the production and application of urban expertise through a political-ecological lens. The focus is on Mexico City where rapid environmental deterioration in the first half of the twentieth century accompanied decades of social and political upheaval sparked by the Revolution of 1910. Rather than view the knowledge of urban design as sealed within high political circles or international expert networks, Vitz widens the realms of knowledge production and design applications by exploring the ways different peoples, seeking to eke a living in changing environments in and around Mexico City, challenged and shaped urban planning. He takes this discussion up to the gargantuan Mexico City of the late 20th and early 21st century where new urban ecological (environmentalist) critiques sometimes dovetailed, and sometimes clashed, with bottom-up claims that are now labeled “right to the city” movements. In conclusion, Vitz offers some theoretical and conceptual reflections on how this history of one of the Global South’s first megacities might inform the theory, practice, and politics of urban design in our contemporary conjuncture.
Dr. Vitz is an esteemed scholar, having held positions as an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UCSD, and a fellow at the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas (Institute of Historical Research) at the UNMA in Mexico City. He has published his research in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México and Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos. Vitz is also the author of A City on a Lake: Urban Political Ecology and the Growth of Mexico City (Radical Perspectives), which tracks the environmental and political history of Mexico City and explains its transformation from a forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity plagued by environmental problems and social inequality.