Welcome to my site! I am an interdisciplinary researcher and teacher whose work is set at the intersection of social and political theory, literary theory, postcolonial theory, media theory, and architecture and planning history. My work approaches the intersection of politics, media, and aesthetics from a transatlantic perspective and with an emphasis on public sphere formations, cultural policies and technocratic/civic media (law, administrative codes, territorial planning), and struggles related to territory. Before coming to Stanford to work on a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature, I earned a BA in Government and International Politics and an MA in English with a concentration in literature from George Mason University. 

My dissertation, “From Lettered City to Smart City: Transforming Cultural Agency and Territory in Bogotá, Colombia,” looks at the way agency and territory in Bogotá were defined at the intersection of cultural discourses and policies, technocratic and urban planning projects, and political struggles over the right to the city, during the last century. This work ranges from the cultural discourses and policies of the ultramontane Bogotano "letrados" of the period known as the Regeneration at the end of the 19th century, to the architecture of Rogelio Salmona during the developmentalist 1960s, to the cultural policies and territorial planning projects of 1990s Bogotá. 

My research pays attention to the way cultural and artistic practices give form to the public sphere, marking understandings of how and why things are done, who should act and speak, and what actions and passions are worthy of public enactment, and to the way media, technologies, and administrative systems frame and coordinate the actions and expressions of real people in the world. Moreover, I frame these processes, aesthetic and technical, in the wider context of political struggles to define a collective and an ordering of territory. I am increasingly interested, from the perspective of postcolonial, critical, and media theory, of studying the ongoing reconfiguration of notions of autonomy, sovereignty, and collective rights related to territory and environment. And in particular, in the way Afro-Colombian and Indigenous cultural frameworks of rights and duties are being incorporated into legal frameworks of rights and duties in Latin American constitutions, and the manner in which this process is reframing struggles over territory in the region.

Originally from the city of Bogotá, where I lived as a child, I grew up in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. I lived in the DC Metro Area most of my life apart from brief stints in Madrid and Berlin, before moving to California to start my Ph.D. 

I also co-host the Pan-Optic podcast with my good friend, Jason Margaritis. Pan-Optic relates theories of communication, power, and technology to practical and institutional issues and everyday life. 

All the photography on this site is done by my wife and collaborator Laura Vlieg.

Contact

jmelo2@stanford.edu

juanpamel@gmail.com

Or through his twitter.