Samuel T. Brandt

Samuel T. Brandt

PhD Candidate



I am an historical and cultural geographer focusing on Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil in the twentieth century. Broadly, I study the relations between urban and rural, domestic and foreign, and wealth and poverty.

Using archival research, ethnographic observation, and oral histories, my dissertation examines the origins, construction, and impact of Uruguay’s Movement for the Eradication of Unhealthy Rural Housing (MEVIR). Rancher, statesman, and philanthropist Alberto Gallinal Heber (1909-1994) founded MEVIR in 1967 to provide dignified living for the rural poor. In a mostly urban country of 3.5 million people, that MEVIR has built over 30,000 homes, and that it exists in every small town in Uruguay is an achievement meriting explanation.

Before coming to UCLA, I spent a year in Uruguay on a Fulbright grant. Following my time in the field, I completed a book manuscript, Uruguay, the Little Country in the Middle: Journeys Between Superlative and Mundane. Combining travelogue and analytical writing, I examine how an ideal of governance by and for the middle-class impacts life in Uruguay in themes ranging from urbanism to soccer to music to education. While I have written the book for an audience beyond the academy, I aim 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.


M.A. Geography, The University of California, Los Angeles, 2019

Thesis: The Makings of Marginality: Land Use Intensification and the Diffusion of Rural Poverty in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Uruguay


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

Thesis: Coming Full Circle: The Wolverhampton Ring Road and the Creation, Restriction and Regeneration of a City Centre, 1944-present


historical geography, cultural geography, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, urban/planning history, environmental history, travel writing 

Selected Publications


Uruguay, The Little Country in the Middle: Journeys Between Superlative and Mundane (completed manuscript)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Geographical Review, “The Brazilian Scene: David Lowenthal, John Dos Passos and the Importance of ‘Scene’ and Brazil to Geographic Inquiry” (September 2021)

Book Reviews and Review Essays:

AAG Review of Books, “Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly” (October 2021)

Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña (HALAC), “Hindrances of the Hinterland: Ranching in Robert Wilcox’s Mato Grosso” (December 2020)

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:

El País (Uruguay), “Vino desde EE.UU. y Cerro Chato le hizo conocer otro Uruguay” (March 2019)

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

Grants & Awards


2020 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant

2020 Field Study Award, Journal of Latin American Geography

2018 Honorable Mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

2013-14 Fulbright U.S. Student

2013 NCGE and AAG Award for Excellence of Scholarship in Geography



2020 Graduate Research Travel Award, UCLA Latin American Institute

2020 Sandra Mabritto Fellowship, UCLA Geography Department

2019 Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA Graduate Division

2018-2019 Graduate Research Mentorship, UCLA Graduate Division

2018 Travel Grant, UCLA Geography Department


The University of Chicago:

2013 Director’s Grant, Chicago Careers in Public and Social Service

2012 Undergraduate Travel Grant, UChicago Nicholson Center for British Studies

2012 Ann Natunewicz Travel Grant, UChicago Committee on Geographical Studies

Courses & Presentations

Conference Presentations:

Simposio de la Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental, virtual, July 2021

American Society for Environmental History’s Environmental History Week, virtual, April 2021

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, virtual, April 2021

Congreso de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociologia Rural, Montevideo, Uruguay, November 2018

Congresso Internacional de História, Regiões e Fronteiras, Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, October 2018

Simpósio Internacional de História Ambiental e Migrações, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, October 2018

Escuela de Posgrados de la Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental, Anápolis, Goiás, Brazil, October 2017


Invited Talks:

Presentation to Incoming Fulbright Grantees, Comisión Fulbright Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay, March 2019

Laboratório de História Ambiental do Cerrado, UniEVANGÉLICA, Anápolis, Goiás, Brazil, February 2019

Centro de Estudios de la Argentina Rural, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 2018

Laboratório de História Ambiental, Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul, Chapecó, Santa Catarina, Brazil, October 2018

UCLA Latin American Institute K-12 Workshop, Los Angeles, CA, USA, June 2018

Wolverhampton City Archives, Wolverhampton, UK, February 2014

Birmingham City University School of the Built Environment, Birmingham, UK, February 2014


Workshop Presentations:

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Latin American Cities Working Group, virtual, May 2020

UCLA Early Modern Working Group, Los Angeles, CA, USA, November 2019

UCLA Latin American Institute Taller Nuestro Norte, Los Angeles, CA, USA, March 2018

UCLA Latin American Institute Center for Southern Cone Studies, Los Angeles, CA, USA, October 2016

University of Manchester Center for Urban Resilience and Energy, Manchester, UK, February 2014


PhD Committee:

Stephen A. Bell, Professor of Geography (Committee Chair)

Judith A. Carney, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Geography

John A. Agnew, Professor of Geography

William R. Summerhill, Professor of History


MA Committee:

Stephen A. Bell, Professor of Geography (Committee Chair)

Judith A. Carney, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Geography

César J. Ayala, Professor of Sociology