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David Yee

Ph.D. candidate in History, Stony Brook University

Residency: January 2019 – May 2019

Research Project: Divided Landscapes in the Mexican Metropolis: Housing and Segregation in Mexico City, 1940-1976

Research Interests: Modern Latin America, Mexico, urban history, poverty and inequality, civil society


David Yee is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Stony Brook University. His dissertation explores housing as a site of social division and distinction among the millions of migrants who arrived to Mexico City in the middle of the 20th century. The project’s examination of public housing complexes and informal settlements sheds new light on the historic relationship between informality and inequality in modern Mexico. It reconsiders Mexico’s democratic transition by focusing on the powerful social movements that emerged from Mexico City’s sprawling shantytowns in the 1970s.

Based on newly found archival material, Yee’s research traces the history of Mexico’s largest shantytown, Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, as it grew alongside a modernist housing complex named San Juan de Aragón. Ciudad Neza and San Juan de Aragón are representative of a crucial historic juncture in Mexican history, an era when the optimism of modernist urban planning was eclipsed by the rise of the urban shantytown. This project combines archival research with new advances in digital and spatial humanities.