Department of Geography and the Environment

Colloquium: Dr. Sarah Lopez

Fri, April 25, 2014 | CLA 0.128

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Colloquium: Dr. Sarah Lopez

Please join the Department of Geography and the Environment for our Spring 2014 colloquium series. We will be hosting a presentation by Dr. Sarah Lopez, Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin. 

The Remittance Landscape: Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA

International migrant remittances have received much attention, as—according to the World Bank—flows to developing countries have increased from 72.3 billion in 2001 to an estimated 401 billion in 2012. While dollars sent home are used for an array of expenses, little is known about how they are used to turn migrant aspirations into concrete and fired-brick realities. This talk explores the remittance landscape—the built environment elements in rural Mexico that have been envisioned by migrants and erected with dollars—as well as the spaces in both Mexico and the U.S. defined by information flows, practices, and organizations that give rise to remitting as a way of life. This exploration is situated in three rural villages in Jalisco where I track the evolution of "the remittance house" to more complex public projects: building a dream house for oneself and one's family has expanded into a community-wide project of rebuilding entire hometowns. This expansion is aided by the Mexican government's Tres Por Uno (3x1) program, which incorporates remittances into public policy, and the expansion of migrant Hometown Associations in the U.S. I argue that the architectures of migration are powerful evidence of the aims, desires, and fears that drive social change in rural Mexico and urban USA; producing complex results for migrants, their families, and their home communities who must balance new kinds of freedom and agency with familial fragmentation, changing social norms, increased responsibility, and growing debt. 

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, email Madeline Enos at



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