Professor Fabiola López-Durán receives 2017 SAH/Mellon Author Award

The Society of Architectural Historians has named Chanchal Dadlani, Farhan Karim, Fabiola López-Durán, Conor P. Lucey, Sun-Young Park, Avigail Sachs, Suzanne Strum and Zachary J. Violette as the recipients of the 2017 SAH/Mellon Author Awards. These awards are given to scholars who are publishing their first monograph on the history of the built environment.

Fabiola López-Durán received the SAH/Mellon Author Award for her forthcoming publication Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity (University of Texas Press) due out in March 2018. 

From the publisher: “As Latin American elites strove to modernize their cities at the turn of the twentieth century, they eagerly adopted the eugenic theory that improvements to the physical environment would lead to improvements in the human race. Based on Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of the “inheritance of acquired characteristics,” this strain of eugenics empowered a utopian project that made race, gender, class, and the built environment the critical instruments of modernity and progress. Through a transnational and interdisciplinary lens, Eugenics in the Garden reveals how eugenics, fueled by a fear of social degeneration in France, spread from the realms of medical science to architecture and urban planning, becoming a critical instrument in the crafting of modernity in the new Latin world. Journeying back and forth between France, Brazil, and Argentina, Fabiola López-Durán uncovers the complicity of physicians and architects on both sides of the Atlantic, who participated in a global strategy of social engineering, legitimized by the authority of science. In doing so, she reveals the ideological trajectory of one of the most celebrated architects of the twentieth century, Le Corbusier, who deployed architecture in what he saw as the perfecting and whitening of man. The first in-depth interrogation of eugenics’ influence on the construction of the modern built environment, Eugenics in the Garden convincingly demonstrates that race was the main tool in the geopolitics of space, and that racism was, and remains, an ideology of progress.”

Fabiola López-Durán is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History at Rice University. López-Durán received a PhD in the history, theory and criticism of architecture and art from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009.