Jessica Mack is a historian of Modern Latin America and a Postgraduate Research Associate in the Department of History. She defended her dissertation, “A Campus for Mexico: Knowledge and Power in UNAM’s University City,” in the Department of History in January 2019. Her project traces the spatial reconfiguration of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) on a new midcentury campus, Ciudad Universitaria. By chronicling this monumental building project, this research explains the national university’s shifting role in Mexico’s developing revolutionary state and examines the ways in which new national priorities were inscribed upon intellectual and cultural life. The largest university in Latin America, with over 330,000 students today and a sprawling 2,500-acre urban campus, UNAM has trained Mexico’s most powerful decision makers, set the terms of public debates and posed questions that have shaped decades of policy. It is also an important channel through which citizens have participated—with both consent and contestation—in Mexico’s twentieth-century public life. This project traces the long twentieth-century arc of Ciudad Universitaria’s creation alongside the national university’s turbulent relationship with the revolutionary state. In conversation with a growing body of scholarship on Mexico’s midcentury, this research explores how Ciudad Universitaria spatially manifested the ruling party’s vision for Mexico’s future and was made possible by its new priorities of urbanization, industrialization and developmentalism. From early imaginings of the campus in the 1930s to its planning in the late 1940s and rapid construction from 1950-1954, the project uses the archives of planners, architects, local residents and bureaucrats to reveal new modes of operating. Once students and faculty arrived at Ciudad Universitaria in 1954, the project traces intellectual and social reconfiguration that took place at the new site, changes that reshaped Mexico City’s urban landscape and realigned contestation in national politics into the late twentieth century.
At Princeton, Jessica is affiliated with the Center for Digital Humanities and is a contributor to the Princeton & Slavery project. She has developed coursework on archival research methods, served as a preceptor for the history course Modern Latin American Since 1810 and is currently an advisor for the Undergraduate Latin American History Workshop. She has also been an instructor for college-level English classes in New Jersey correctional facilities through the Prison Teaching Initiative. Before coming to Princeton, Jessica was an associate at the Social Science Research Council and worked in the non-profit sector in Mexico City. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Her research interests include public history, urban studies and archival quandaries. Students who wish to sign up for office hours can do so here.