Grad Students

Samuel T. Brandt



Contact Information

Email    stbrandt@ucla.edu
Office  Not Available
Phone  
Through document analysis and ethnographic immersion, my work ambitiously seeks to tell a historical narrative of human interventions in the environment.

In a general sense, I take a phenomenon I observe in the field or on a map, and ask three basic questions: Why was it built? How was it built? How has it impacted people and landscapes at different scales? While this a broad framework, I focus on the Southern Cone and Brazil in the 20th century, paying particular heed to the inter-related tensions between urban and rural, domestic and foreign, and wealth and poverty.

My dissertation examines MEVIR (Movement for the Eradication of Unhealthy Rural Housing), a program founded in 1967 by landowner and philanthropist Alberto Gallinal to provide housing for Uruguay’s rural poor who previously lived in slums, or rancherios, scattered across a sparsely populated countryside. Given my exposure to MEVIR during fieldwork in Uruguay, I ask two overarching questions: 1) What impact has the incursion of MEVIR into Uruguay’s interior and the concomitant (but incomplete) eradication of rancherios had upon land, labor and social relations? 2) How is it that a housing scheme existing at a national scale has largely avoided the material and symbolic failure associated with large-scale social housing initiatives in Latin America and around the world?

My undergraduate thesis Coming Full Circle: The Wolverhampton Ring Road and the Formation, Restriction and Regeneration of a City Centre, 1944-present takes a piece of the built environment often perceived as ugly or mundane—a ring road—and through a careful analysis of plans, shows how it actually represented grand civic aspirations of a post-industrial city struggling to carve out its place in Britain’s urban hierarchy.

Following my undergraduate thesis, I spent a year in Uruguay on a Fulbright grant, after which, I completed a book manuscript, Uruguay, the Little Country in the Middle: Journeys Between Superlative and Mundane. Combining travel and analytical writing, I examine how an ideal of governance by and for the middle-class and its constituent social experiments impact everyday life in Uruguay in themes ranging from urbanism to soccer to music to education. While this is not a book that abides by academic conventions, one of its main aims is to open avenues for future scholarly work on a country that, despite and because of its anonymity, is fertile ground for geographers and social scientists.

Fields of Study

historical geography, urban/planning history, environmental history, cultural geography, the Southern Cone and Brazil, housing and the home

Advisors

Stephen Bell

Awards

2018-19 UCLA Graduate Research Mentorship

2018 Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

2014 Fulbright U.S. Student

2013 NCGE/AAG Excellence of Scholarship Award

2012 Undergraduate Travel Grant, Nicholson Center for British Studies, The University of Chicago

2012 Ann Natunewicz Travel Grant, Committee on Geographical Studies, The University of Chicago

Research

Through document analysis and ethnographic immersion, my work ambitiously seeks to tell a historical narrative of human interventions in the environment. In a general sense, I take a phenomenon I observe in the field or on a map, and ask three basic questions: Why was it built? How was it built? How has it impacted people and landscapes at different scales? While this a broad framework, I focus on the Southern Cone and Brazil in the 20th century, paying particular heed to the inter-related tensions between urban and rural, domestic and foreign, and wealth and poverty.

My dissertation examines the impact of MEVIR (Movement for the Eradication of Unhealthy Rural Housing), a program founded in 1967 by landowner and philanthropist Alberto Gallinal to provide housing for Uruguay’s rural poor who previously lived in slums, or rancherios, scattered across a sparsely populated countryside.

Degrees

A.B. Geographical Studies with Honors, The University of Chicago (2013)

Publications

Newspapers, Magazines, and Radio:

El País (Uruguay), "Túnez, un país espejo al otro lado del mundo" (November 2017)

Semanario Búsqueda, “Uruguay Según los Extranjeros” (February 2016)

The Register-Guard, “Pot, gay marriage barely make a stir in Uruguay” (July 2015)

Roads and Kingdoms, “The Raiders of Ruta 7” (July 2015)

Lvblcity, “Malmö: The Many Faces of the European City” (June 2015)

IBWM, “A cast of characters: Why la Celeste stands unique” (February 2015)

WBEZ, “How the Dan Ryan Changed the South Side” (June 2013)

Media Appearances:

BBC, “Are these the worst ring roads in England” (April 2014)