In A City on a Lake, Matthew Vitz adds an important, compelling study to the burgeoning scholarship on Mexico's environmental history. At once also an urban history, a work of historical geography, and a political history of popular mobilizations and state formation from the 1870s to the 1940s, the book traces the rise and consolidation of a technocratic bureaucracy that dealt with efforts by working and middle classes of the Basin of Mexico to secure better housing and sanitation as well as to gain access to key natural resources. With the onset of the Mexican Revolution, the competing demands of different interest groups, Vitz argues, generated emancipatory opportunities for reducing inequalities and pursuing environmental justice—openings that were later closed by the exclusionary, capitalist priorities of postrevolutionary administrations.

The book is based on meticulous, extensive research. Vitz's many sources consist of administrative...

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