Sarah Lopez is a built environment historian, as well as a migration scholar. Lopez' research focuses on the impact of migrant remittances—dollars earned in the U.S. and sent to families and communities in Mexico—on the architecture and landscape of rural Mexico and urban USA. By approaching architectural history within the context of migration, Lopez examines multiple sites across international borders, arguing that we must examine the spatial and built environment histories of discrete places simultaneously. Her book entitled, The Remittance Landscape: The Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2015 and won the 2017 Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. Her 2015 book chapter, "Putting Vista Hermosa on the Map: Migrant Boosterism in Distant Homelands," won the 2017 Bishir Article Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
Lopez is currently working on two projects. The first examines the architecture of migrant detention facilities in Texas, a project commenced in partnership with the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) national-exhibit. Her class contribution to the web-exhibition, Spatial Stories of Migration and Detention, was also expanded at a UT Austin exhibit. An American Quarterly article, From Penal to "Civil:" A Legacy of Private Prison Policy in a Landscape of Migrant Detention builds off of this earlier project. The second explores the evolution of an informal binational construction industry, with a focus on cantera stone, saltillo tile, and embodied construction knowledge, between Mexico and the U.S. over the last forty years.
Lopez is embarking on a new teaching-research project mapping the cultural landscapes of historic railroad connections between Monterrey, Mexico and Texas. Broadly speaking, she teaches about U.S. cultural landscapes, the interface between migration, architecture, and cities, the use of interdisciplinary methods to study space and society, and world architectural history. She also teaches about how to incorporate ethnographic methods into built environment research. She received the 2015 Outstanding Teaching award from LLILAS, and the 2016 Outstanding Teaching Award from the School of Architecture. In 2017, Lopez was a Princeton-Mellon Fellow in Architecture, Urbanism, & the Humanities.
- B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2001
- M.S., University of California, Berkeley, 2006
- Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011
- U.S. and Mexican cultural landscapes
- vernacular architecture
- Latin American remittance development
- U.S. nineteenth and twentieth-century built environment history
- multidisciplinary methods for architectural historians