Ettore Santi Awarded 2020 Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship

Architecture PhD Candidate Ettore Santi received a 2020 Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship for his research on Chinese rural land design history. The announcement below is copied from CED News. Ettore completed the Graduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities in 2018.

This month, Ettore Santi, Architecture Ph.D. candidate, was awarded a 2020 Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC). 

Selected out of 900 applicants, Santi is one of the 70 awardees of the prestigious fellowship awarded to students from 14 disciplines such as literature, archaeology, political science, and technology studies. 

The fellowship has supported more than 1000 projects, providing an average of $23,000 for housing, living, travel, and research expenses. Recipients must be a graduate student enrolled in a US Ph.D. program conducting dissertation research on non-US topics. 

Santi’s research looks at the design of agrarian transformation in Hunan province, China. His dissertation, “Designing a Land Revolution: The Corporate Reinvention of China’s Rural Environment” tracks the rural area’s transition from local farming systems to an industrialized, commercial hub. According to Santi, his project “maps the ongoing construction of new high-tech farms, soil science laboratories, rural ecotourism parks, and modern rural homes.” 

He explains, “In my Ph.D. studies, I noticed that scholarship in design history and theory has often overlooked the rural built environment, considered a non-designed, "vernacular" realm. I am interested in complicating this view.” Santi said, “My dissertation argues that rural areas are sites of intense design experimentation, in which modern state agencies struggle to shape and control land, food systems, and the population at the fringes of their territorial jurisdictions. This is especially true in today's China, where state-led design institutes are demolishing and rebuilding entire village dwellings, farmlands, hills, forests, animal and water systems to maximize their productivity and profitability. At a time of increasing social and environmental crisis, I hope this research will help critically reflect on the roles and responsibilities of design knowledge in shaping future ecologies”. 

In his time at Berkeley, Santi has taught several courses and earned the Pamela and Kenneth Fong Graduate Student Fellowship as well as the Spiro Kostof Grant in Architectural History from CED’s Architecture Department. In addition, Santi was honored with the Luce Foundation Grant in Chinese Studies awarded by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in 2018. 

“The Mellon-IDRF grant will enable me to continue my fieldwork in Hunan. Collaborating with local architects and farmers, I will document how rural futures are designed, implemented, and even transgressed across multiple case studies.”

To follow Santi's work, visit his CED profile here