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Eira Capelan

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Previous education

Eira obtained her BSc in Architecture from the Institute of Technology at Lund University (Sweden). In 2010 Eira was employed by Hugo Gilmet at the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Sustainable Development in Uruguay, time during which she participated in the formulation of a set of territorial planning strategies for the eastern coast of that country (including the departments of Rocha, Maldonado, Cerro Largo, Lavalleja and Treinta y Tres). In 2014 she was awarded a MArch degree with distinction from the Manchester School of Architecture, where she had already begun her involvement in the collective research practice, Material Politics. Since 2013, Eira has conducted research and design work for Material Politics in Guayaquil and Quito (Ecuador); Rosario (Argentina) and Manchester (UK). She is currently developing a project in Montevideo (Uruguay).

Thesis title

Popular monumentality: Remembering, forgetting and practices of commemoration in el Cerro de Montevideo


Research profile

The relevance of monuments within increasingly pluralistic social landscapes of late postmodern societies is frequently called into question. Within the critiques, monumental architectures are perceived as archaic enforcers of popular consensus, glorifying dated motifs or upholding an outmoded visual language. Attempts to formulate a counter-monumental movement are generally censured for emulating -through superficial tactics and excessive attention to aesthetics gestures- the very structures that they oppose.

My research unpacks the notion of a popular monumentality as a means to register the social and political significance of contemporary commemorative practices taking place beyond the remits of hitherto accepted monumental forms. Popular monumentalities are fluid, territorially situated practices that concurrently address local, national and regional collective memories. Through ethnographic fieldwork carried out over the course of six months in the semi-informal, socially fragmented urban area, Cerro de Montevideo, my research has registered a number of cases of popular monumentalities. These cases have refined scholarly insight into the social and political role of collective memory in general and, in particular, into commemoration practices within stigmatised or marginal urban peripheries. As such, the research draws on architecture, Latin American politics and memory studies to reinvigorate debates concerning urban questions of inclusion and exclusion.

Research interests 

  • Urban fragmentation
  • Exclusion/inclusion
  • Collective memory
  • Commemoration practices
  • Latin America
  • Displacement
  • Migration