Academic and Architectural Modernization for Development: Financial and Technical Assistance to the University of Concepción, Chile, 1956–1968

Mar 16, 2023 | by
  • Description

The following research is part of my ongoing dissertation project, which examines the planning, design, and construction of university campuses vis-à-vis the intensification of mining and oil extraction in South America between 1945 and 1975. In this report, I offer a brief overview of the technical and financial assistance that the Ford Foundation (FF), the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), and the UN Special Fund (UNSF) gave to one of my case studies, the Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), located in mineral-rich Chile. Multiple holdings at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) reveal that these organizations provided significant aid to the UdeC between 1956 and 1968—a critical period during which the technical and financial assistance programs of the US became entangled with a national developmentalist agenda that tied scientific and engineering education to economic development. The RAC holdings I explore are extremely useful in understanding the geopolitical and economic context that shaped these aid programs, the UdeC's modernization efforts, and the agendas of the multiple actors involved in this process. The textual and visual documents I analyze also underscore the critical role that modern architecture played in all of this as an enabler of the academic reform and the economic transformation of the region, and as a persuasive signifier of "development."