Alec R. Stewart

Architectural and Urban Historian, Geographer

I am a scholar of the history of architecture and urbanism who holds a PhD in Architecture (History, Theory and Society) from the University of California, Berkeley, a MA in Human Geography from George Washington University, and a BA in Geography (with a City Planning minor) from the University of California, Berkeley. I have taught courses in urban studies, urban geography, and architectural history for over a decade, with previous postings at the University of Pennsylvania, Mills College, Northeastern University, the University of San Francisco, and at the University of California, Berkeley, where I presently teach. 

My field of study encompasses twentieth- and twenty-first-century architectural and urban history, and my research examines how people claim urban space through patterns of everyday use. I integrate fieldwork, ethnography, mapping, and archival research in my methodological approach, which illuminates how acts of city building and mobility feed into larger processes urbanization, racialization, and material culture production. By understanding how these processes play out at a micro level within commercial and public realms, my work seeks to advance a more socially just and humane urbanism. 

My doctoral dissertation, "Meet Me at the Swap Meet": Architectures of Emergent Citizenship in Greater Los Angeles, 1983-2020, examines the reuse and revitalization of retail buildings as indoor market halls by immigrant entrepreneurs. Currently, I am writing a book manuscript titled, Meet Me at the Swap Meet: The Production and Transformation of Multiethnic Marketplaces in Urban America, which explores how place making and claiming have shaped struggles for meaningful urban citizenship.