[David Rockefeller Center] Mapping the Megacity: Understanding Urban Change in São Paulo through Historical GIS


Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South S030 Doris and Ted Lee Gathering Room

This event will be held in-person - for Harvard affiliates only - at CGIS South S030 Doris and Ted Lee Gathering Room. To register click here.

Speaker: Dan McDonald, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Humanities Center at the University of Rochester
Respondent: Alyssa Huberts, PhD candidate in the Government at Harvard University

HMUI Urban Conversations aim to pair visiting scholars with Harvard faculty or graduate students as respondents. Our goal is to create a space for scholars to share works-in-progress with an interdisciplinary community of urbanists.

Daniel McDonald is a historian of citizenship, migration, and cities in Latin America. He specializes in the history of Brazil and focuses in particular on issues of rights, urbanization, migration, gender, and the Catholic Church. At present, he is the postdoctoral fellow at the Humanities Center at the University of Rochester for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar "Unbordering Migration in the Americas." In 2020-21, he was a postdoctoral fellow in "Migration and the Humanities" at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. He received his PhD in History from Brown University in 2020. McDonald’s research engages a range of issues in the history of cities in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin America. His current book project, Peripheral Citizenship: Migration, Popular Politics, and Rights in Twentieth-Century São Paulo, examines how everyday people constructed understandings of rights and democracy through their day-to-lives in Brazil’s largest city amid explosive urban growth and authoritarian rule. In his forthcoming article in the Journal of Urban History, “The Origins of Informality in a Brazilian Planned City: Belo Horizonte, 1889-1900,” he examines how racialized elite discourses of modernity led city planners to employ urban informality as a means to shape the future population of Belo Horizonte during the construction of Brazil’s first modern planned city. His dissertation was awarded the 2021 Best Dissertation Prize from the New England Council of Latin American Studies and the History Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Department of History at Brown University. His work in the digital humanities ranges from large-scale digitization efforts to historical mapping. His ongoing Grassroots Archive Digital Initiative (GADI) digitized thousands of documents held by grassroots movements in the urban periphery of São Paulo which will become part of the initial collection of the Centro de Memória da Zona Leste. He was also an assistant director and lead researcher of the Opening the Archives project, a massive effort to digitize 100,000 documents on U.S. Brazilian relations during the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985). Currently, he is working on a historical GIS project “Mapping the Megacity” hosted by the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative.

Alyssa Huberts is a PhD candidate in the Harvard Government department and a Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative Doctoral Fellow. Her dissertation considers the political economy of urban service quality in Latin America: what incentives do urban politicians have to provide quality services like piped water and trash collection? The project, which focuses on Mexico City and São Paulo, is mixed methods, combining qualitative interviews and ethnographic research with quantitative analysis of administrative and social media data. Before coming to Harvard, Alyssa worked for Ashoka Social Entrepreneurs Mexico and the InterAmerican Development Bank. She also collaborates with the Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems: Water Quality, Public Trust, and Health in Mexico City (NESTSMX) initiative at the University of Michigan.

This event is being organized by the Harvard Urban Mellon Initiative, in collaboration with DRCLAS