Dr. Anna Rose Alexander’s City on Fire: Technology, Social Change, and the Hazards of Progress in Mexico City, 1860-1910 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016) looks at fire as an active agent of change in the urban environment (a catalyst for change). She examines the approaches to dealing with the ever-present threat of fire in Mexico City in an era in which technology and modernity were transforming the city in fundamental ways. Using a methodology borrowed from “hazard studies,” Alexander looks not at the major disasters as agents of fundamental change, but the everyday conflagrations as creating a kind of “culture of disaster” in the porfirian city. Alexander highlights the efforts of fire inspectors and other officials in the realm of public safety to approach fire risk reduction from a perspective that ensured all capitalinos access to fire safety, as a matter of public safety.
Julian Dodson is a Post-doctoral Teaching Fellow at Washington State University. His research interests include nineteenth and twentieth-century Mexican history, specifically the period of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1940. Other interests include the history of the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S.-Mexico diplomatic relations, environmental, transnational, gender, and cultural history. Julian is the author of Fanáticos, Exiles, and Spies: Revolutionary Failures on the U.S-Mexico Border, 1923-1930 (Texas A&M University Press, 2019). Follow Julian on Twitter @JulianDodson4.
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