SELECTED ACADEMIC WORK
Anxious Architecture (2017)
This article draws on the analysis of architectural form, artifacts of material culture, and interviews gathered from fieldwork in the U.S. and Mexico, I identify three ways architecture acts "anxious" as a spatial relationship to conflict: 1) sleep (insomnia), 2) identity (anonymity), and 3) death (haunting). In these modes, an architecture born in the borderlands both embodies and emotes anxiety as a spatial tactic to respond to conflict.
This chapter asks how memory works through bodies, objects, and landscapes to stabilize and destabilize 'otherness' in the lives of border-crossers and in political narratives. As an alternative to the 'testimonial object,' we offer the 'heterotopic object,' an artifact that can hold and create radically contested meaning and memory. Each heterotopic artifact, story, or landscape can become a site where multiple memories co-exist. We take as material evidence the objects that migrants carry, use, and discard during crossings and analyze. Comparing these artifacts to the recollections of border-crossers' attempts, we reveal and revel in the emerging slippages between emic and etic readings of data.
Human Traces + Secret Spaces (2018)
This doctoral dissertation contributes to the discourse of informal and temporary architecture through its investigation of the small structures constructed by unauthorized border-crossers (UBCs) in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Scholarship tends to frame self-built environments as a cultural phenomenon (as traditional vernacular architecture), a by-product or response to capitalism (as marginal spaces of resistance such as ‘slums’), or an artistic endeavor (such as pop-up architecture or guerilla urbanism). I argue that UBC structures, in their response to extreme situations, constitute illustrative microcosms through which we can view the larger relationship among architecture, politics, experience, and environment.