JCB Fellow's Talk: John F. López

June 6, 2018 - 4:00pm

John F. López (University of California, Davis), National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

“Speak to the Past and It Shall Teach Thee”: Mexico City Past and Present in the Age of Climate Change

Contemporary Mexico City faces an environmental crisis of drastic proportions. As one the largest cities in the world and the economic, political, and international engine of Mexico, the city can ill afford to be besieged by natural disaster. Climate change only promises to exacerbate the city’s centuries-old tendency to inundate, increasing the frequency of flooding and its duration. Today, Mexico City averages a flood per year. To put this figure in greater perspective, viceregal Mexico City inundated every fourteen years and Tenochtitlan (Mexico City’s pre-Hispanic predecessor) once every sixty-four years. Climate change alone is not wholly responsible for this drastic upsurge in flooding. Past human decisions and actions are also at the core in the city’s increase to inundate. Historical images and texts play an important role in scrutinizing past decisions and actions and their consequences in the climate-change era. Environmental history and evidence offer new avenues for thinking through present-day environmental risk and crisis. Via comparative study of Aztec and Spanish conceptions of city and water, this talk situates Mexico City’s current flood issues within past epistemes about nature.

**The JCB's front entrance is closed due to construction, please use the rear entrance accessible from George Street**

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 pm.