Intermediaries and the Construction of a Revolutionary Nation

Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:50 AM
Chicago Ballroom G (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Georg Leidenberger, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Cuajimalpa
This paper will compare a series of key social housing projects proposed and/or constructed in the decades following the Mexican Revolution: the (single-unit) worker colony by Juan Legarreta in 1931, the first multi-story and multi-functional worker settlement by Hannes Meyer in 1941, and the large-scale housing units by Mario Pani of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Without ignoring their importance as architectural, urbanistic and modernistic landmarks, I shall examine them mainly as key sites, in physical and ideological terms, of the consolidation of the Mexican post-revolutionary “regime”, in general, and of the architectural profession, in particular. Specified in the 1917 Constitution as an essential element of the revolutionary agenda, social housing emerged as a central element of public policy, especially by the post-War period, when the publicly-financed projects showcased the fulfillment of the state’s social obligations and manifested the semi-corporate alliance between the state and worker as well as “popular”, middle-class segments. With this in mind, I shall focus on the respective public, institutional and political position occupied by the architects of these projects and reflect on what these case studies tell us about the role this profession played in the physical and ideological construction of the post-revolutionary state. I thus examine a group of highly-influential professionals as “inter-mediaries”  between the material and ideological building of a “revolutionary” nation.