Weitzman News

Posted April 6, 2022

Historian and Migration Scholar Sarah Lopez to Join Weitzman Faculty

Weitzman welcomes built environment historian and migration scholar Sarah Lopez to the standing faculty in the Department of City and Regional Planning, and she will also teach in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. Lopez studies the intersections of migration, ordinary landscapes, urbanism, and spatial justice, and she will teach courses for Weitzman’s new Initiative on the History of the Built Environment, which offers designers, planners, and preservationists a complex and inclusive understanding of the history of built landscapes.

Lopez is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The Remittance Landscape: The Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA, which explores the impact of migrant remittances—dollars earned in the US and sent to families and communities in Mexico—on the architecture and landscape of “rural” Mexico and “urban” USA. It won the 2017 Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. 

Lopez is at work on two new books. The first looks at the architectural history of migrant detention facilities in the US, a project that contributed to the Humanities Action Lab’s States of Incarceration exhibit, which travelled throughout the US from 2016 to 2020. The second explores the evolution of an informal binational construction industry, with a focus on cantera stone and embodied construction knowledge between Mexico and the US over the last 40 years.

At UT, Lopez is a faculty affiliate with American Studies, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, and the Center for Mexican American Studies. Prior to joining the faculty at UT, Lopez was a postdoctoral fellow in history at the University of Chicago. She earned her PhD in architectural history from the University of California at Berkeley.

Lopez’s appointment at Penn begins with the 2022-2023 Academic Year and will be formally reviewed by the Provost and the Board of Trustees this fall.

Led by Francesca Russello Ammon, an associate professor of city and regional planning who also teaches in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Weitzman’s Initiative in the History of the Built Environment (HBE) was launched in the fall of 2021 to make Penn the premier place to study urban, planning, landscape, and architectural history within its social, political, and cultural contexts.