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Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies Advisory Board

Alice Nash

Alice Nash, Advisory Board Chair, is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She holds a PhD in history from Columbia University (1997) and an MA in American and New England Studies from Boston University (1989). Her research interests range from the impact of colonization on family and gender relations in Wabanaki history before 1800 to current issues such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She has published numerous articles on northeastern Native American history including three in French translation in the Quebec journal Recherches amérindiennes au Québec (RAQ). In 2003–2004, she was awarded the first Fulbright-Université de Montréal Distinguished Chair. During this year, she served on the RAQ editorial board and taught a course on the Deerfield Raid of 1704, connecting New England and New France. Her most recent publication is “Indigenous Peoples of the Americas to 1900,” published in The Routledge Handbook to the History and Society of the Americas (2019), which she coedited with Olaf Kaltmeier, Josef Raab, Michael Stewart Foley, Stefan Rinke, and Mario Rufer. She is the recipient of four grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019) to serve as director or codirector of Teaching Native American Histories, a Summer Institute for K–12 teachers drawn from a national pool of applicants. 

Watch Alice Nash discuss how the continued creation of Indigenous Studies collections and scholarship will help expand and indigenize our understandings of Democracy and Urban Landscapes.

Eric Avila

Eric Avila is professor and chair of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in American history from the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught Chicano Studies and History at UCLA since 1997 and was promoted to associate professor in 2004. He is the author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles, published by the University of California Press in 2004. His research has won various awards and prizes, including the recent inclusion of his article “Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Film Noir Disneyland, and the Cold War (Sub)Urban Imaginary,” published in the Journal of Urban History within a new publication by the Organization of American Historians featuring the ten best articles in American history written between the summers of 2004 and 2005. He recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, where he began research for a second book project entitled The Folklore of the Freeway: A Cultural History of Highway Construction.

Willow Lung-Amam

Willow Lung-Amam is associate professor at the University of Maryland in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Her scholarship focuses on how urban policies and plans contribute to and can address social inequality, particularly in neighborhoods undergoing rapid racial and economic change. She has written extensively on immigrant suburbanization, equitable development, gentrification, suburban poverty, and geographies of opportunity. Lung-Amam is the author of Trespassers?: Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia (2017). Her research has appeared in various journals, such as the Journal of Urban Affairs and Journal of Planning, Education and Research, and popular media outlets, including the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and CityLab

Watch Willow Lung-Amam discuss the role of urban design in shaping community power and democratic spaces.

NDB ConnollyNDB Connolly is associate professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University, where he occupies the Herbert Baxter Adams Chair and directs the program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship. He is also one of four cohosts on the weekly podcast BackStory. Connolly’s 2014 book, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida, received, among other awards, the Kenneth T. Jackson Book Award from the Urban History Association, the Bennett H. Wall Award from the Southern Historical Association, and the Liberty Legacy Foundation Book Award from the Organization of American Historians. He is currently writing Four Daughters, a five-generation history of one working-class family whose travels and travails took them between the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States. In addition to his published work and podcasting, Connolly helped launch the digital mapping site, Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, and created, with Keisha Blain, Trump Syllabus 2.0, housed on the site Public Books

Sarah Lopez

Sarah Lopez, a built environment historian and migration scholar, is an Associate Professor at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. Lopez' book, The Remittance Landscape: The Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA, 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. Lopez is working on two book projects. The first examines the architectural history of migrant detention facilities in the U.S., a project that contributed to the Humanities Action Lab’s States of Incarceration national exhibit, on view from 2016 to 2020. The second examines the history of a transnational building industry “from below,” with a focus on cantera stone and embodied construction knowledge in both Mexico and the U.S. She researches and teaches at the intersections of migration, ordinary landscapes, urbanism, and spatial justice. Lopez’s book was awarded the 2017 Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. She has been the recipient of Mellon fellowships at Princeton, Dumbarton Oaks, and in 2023, the Center for the Study of Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery.

Andrea Roberts

Dr. Andrea Roberts is an Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and Co-Director of the School’s Center for Cultural Landscapes at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) School of Architecture. Prior to joining UVA, Dr. Roberts was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Texas A&M University (TAMU). She is a scholar-activist who brings 12 years of experience in community development, nonprofit administration, and advocacy to her engaged research and public scholarship. In 2014, she founded The Texas Freedom Colonies Project, the vehicle through which she mentors and trains future planners, preservationists, scholars, and community-based researchers to challenge freedom colony invisibility, environmental injustice, and land loss through heritage conservation. She and her team richly map these settlements via the interactive The Texas Freedom Colonies Project™, Atlas and Study, which spatializes sites’ histories through participatory action research methods, including oral histories.

She has received awards for her engaged scholarship from The Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Urban Affairs Association. Roberts was a 2020-21 Whiting Public Engagement Fellow, an African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grant recipient, and a 2020 Visiting Scholar at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, Abolition. Most recently, she served as Co- Project Director for the NEH Summer Institute for Higher Education Faculty—"Towards a People's History of Landscape.”

Dr. Roberts is also the Consultant/Owner of Freedom Colonies Project, LLC, which provides research and DEIA services to preservation organizations. She served as a Texas State Board of Review member and a National Monument Audit Advisory Board member. Dr. Roberts holds a Ph.D. in planning from The University of Texas at Austin (2016), an M.A. in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania (2006), and a B.A. in political science from Vassar College (1996). She is currently authoring a book, Never Sell the Land, about her experiences identifying Black planning and historic preservation practices that sustain cultural resilience within freedom colonies for The University of Texas Press.

Gabrielle Tayac

Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, a member of the Piscataway Indian Nation, is an activist scholar committed to empowering Indigenous perspectives. She earned her PhD and MA in sociology from Harvard University, and her BS in social work and American Indian studies from Cornell University. Her scholarly research focuses on hemispheric American Indian identity, multiracialism, indigenous religions, and social movements, maintaining a regional specialization in the Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Tayac served on the staff of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) for 18 years as an educator, historian, and curator. She engages deeply in community relationships and public discourse. She took a two-year journey to uplift the voices of indigenous elder women leaders, sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors prior to settling back at home. Drawing from her decades of experience as a curator, educator, and historian at NMAI and fieldwork supporting elders across the Americas, Dr. Tayac trains a new generation of public historians at George Mason in these methodologies. At Mason, with enthusiastic support in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and in her department, Dr. Tayac set up the Public History Lab to work with students to learn hands-on skills to create exhibits and put history into action – not only with indigenous topics.