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John F. Lopez, PhD
Regents of the University of California, Davis (Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-1698)
The Aquatic Metropolis: Mapping Water and Urban Form at Viceregal Mexico City

A book-length study about the drainage of lakes in Mexico City during the 16th and 17th centuries based on maps, city plans, paintings, diagrams, and other visual material.

The Aquatic Metropolis examines the centuries-old efforts by the Aztec and Spanish to combat catastrophic inundation in Mexico City via urban planning, water management, and environmental change. Unlike the Aztec who built a city of causeways to mitigate flooding, the Spanish undertook drainage, transforming the city from an island in 1524 to a mainland settlement by 1700. Analysis of Western and non-Western images demonstrates the differing epistemes undergirding Spanish and Aztec conceptions of nature, thus revealing the underlying objective of drainage: to dehistoricize Mexico City from its pre-Hispanic form, freeing it from the hydro-spatial practices of Aztec Tenochtitlan by eliminating its most iconic feature: water. In scrutinizing a Spanish response to flooding, this book sheds light on how a shift from causeways to drainage speaks to a new epistemological orientation to nature that had transformative urban implications.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Architecture; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts; Latin American History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2018 – 9/30/2018