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Botanical Practices and Urban Reform in Postcolonial Santiago, Chile

Romy Hecht, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Fellow 2017–2018

My Dumbarton Oaks fellowship allowed me to work on a book manuscript that inquires into the nature of Santiago’s landscape, examining for the first time how it was formed and who was in charge of its development. My main accomplishment during this year was to overcome a research approach based on site studies and refocus on the construction of a larger historical and cultural narrative for Chile’s capital city. As a result, I outlined an urban tale unraveling the crossing of political, economic, and social threads that, in the period spanning the 1830s to 1930s, permanently changed the face and structure of Santiago under the scope of botanical practices. Access to Dumbarton Oaks’ unparalleled physical and digital resources, not readily available elsewhere, especially in Latin America, in addition to the constructive criticism offered in the context of informal lunch conversations, research reports, and follow-up discussions were invaluable to my self-assigned mission to unearth the origins of Santiago’s landscape.