Author Archives: lenasimet

Check out this great event from our sister organization Hub Up this Friday!!



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Agenda Nov 21 – Chinese Sellers: A story of globalization as told by an informal market in downtown São Paulo by Douglas Piza

Here a summary about Douglas’s great work:

This paper shares the premise that globalization is a set of complex transnational phenomena that take place at specific sites, and seconds the proposition that an important part of contemporary globalization is the intersection of two international fluxes, namely those of people and goods. It seeks to explore migration from a mobility paradigm perspective, and takes the case under study as a strategic research site for the investigation of how globalization shapes spaces.

Based in an ethnography made between 2009 and 2012, it seeks to answer how was possible a mass of Chinese migrants to become the majority of sellers in downtown São Paulo’s popular market in the last two decades. I argue that the recent massive arrival of Chinese migrants in that area was possible due to emergence of popular shopping malls whose majority of proprietors is comprised of Chinese migrants arrived at Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s. It is true that significant recent flow of migration occurs at a time of reactivation of the Chinese diaspora around the world in the wake of the effects of Chinese industrialization, economic and political reforms. However, it was the Chinese migrants of the previous flow that could become importers of products made in China, which abound in downtown São Paulo markets, partially displacing the supply chain of products that previously passed through Paraguay. There are more recently arrived Chinese sellers than importers and owners of galleries, but only the latter two types had a “transnational condition” that allowed them to legally open their businesses and, through social networks, connect themselves to the other side of the globe. Therefore they alter the scale of the trade practiced by engendering a new kind of sales: popular shopping malls full of Chinese merchants who sell products directly from the Asian country.

The paper discusses the role of social networks in transnational migration in two different ways. First, it reveals the tensions of the interaction between two distinctive flows of Chinese (1950s-60s and 90s-00s) in a spectrum that ranges from full ethnic solidarity to quasi-slavery. Second, it pays special attention to the connections between Chinese in São Paulo and in their country, interpreting the juxtaposition and singularities of diaspora and mercantile circuits.

As always we meet on Fridays for lunch (it is on us) from 1-3pm in 65W 11th Street, Room 102!!

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Agenda Nov 14 – Join us for a talk with Juan Reyes on Urban policy and Education

Juan is a M.A. student in Education Policy at Teachers College – Columbia University. He holds a major in economics and a minor in history from Los Andes University in Colombia. Prior to coming to New York he worked for the Colombian Ministry of Education where he contributed to the definition of the nascent early childhood education policy. Among his most notable responsibilities he designed and led a Fund for the provision of early childhood education in partnership with more than 700 municipalities of the country. He has experience also policy analysis and school improvement. During the last year he worked as a research assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College reviewing early childhood policies in several countries in Latin America. His interests start in early childhood policy but extend to the whole educational system. He is interested in a broader extent in other topics such as international development, poverty alleviation and human development.

Joins us for a discussion with Juan this Friday, Nov 14, from 1-3pm at 65W 11th Street, Room 102!!

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Agenda Nov 7 – Amenawon Solar School

In this week’s session, Anze Zadel, PhD Milano student and architect, will  share his experience with the Amenawon Solar School in Lagos, Nigeria.

Here an excerpt of what the project is about:

“We seek to address challenges facing Lagos-dwellers through the development of a sustainable compound. Working with tenants in the compound’s building, the Amayo family, and community members in the neighborhood of Ikeja, the project plans to develop a rainwater harvesting system to produce potable water and a green roof that will provide open space and the opportunity to cultivate food; and retrofit the building with solar panels to provide reliable electricity and replace inefficient energy-based generator use. It will eventually seek to address the sewage problem with compound-scale solutions such as compost toilets and neighborhood-scale solutions such as filtering plants and energy production from biowaste.”


Join us for lunch and to learn more about this incredible project Friday Nov 7, from 1-3pm in 65 W11th Street, Room 102!

For more info, visit their website:

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Agenda 31/10: Improving the consensus on government efforts to transform cities in emerging economies

Milano Professors Robert Buckley, Michael Cohen, and Margarita Gutman participated last week at a conference in Bellagio, organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and The New School regarding government efforts to transform cities in emerging economies, particularly the so‐called
 Ethiopia. Keynote speakers from the respective countries presented current programs; including success stories and challenges.

Among the issues that were discussed are:

  1. The
  2. The
  3. Subsidy Form and Targeting
  4. Understanding and Planning for Urban Expansion

Moreover outcomes and challenges of such programs, as well as risk mitigation methods, knowledge management and communication, and new low-income / slum improvement initiatives were discussed as well.

We invited the three professors to join us for an informal discussion over lunch (provided by us) about the outcomes of the conference.

Join us for this exciting discussion from 1:30pm – 3pm in 66 west 12th street, Room 518!

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Join us for the Piketty Party this Friday at 5pm!


Rockstar and Economist are rarely heard in the same sentence. Thomas Piketty has changed that. He’ll be giving a talk here at the New School on October 3 but tickets have long been sold out. You can try your luck waiting for no-shows to free up some seats OR you can join Urban Sessions & the Graduate Urban Programs at Parsons for our Piketty Watch Party.

We will be live-streaming the talk on campus at 63 5th Avenue in room 515. There will be informed conversations, lively debate, pizza and light refreshments available!

Following the live stream we will be discussing what Urban Sessions does, introduce upcoming projects from Graduate Urban Programs at Parson, and give more information on international work/study opportunities.

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Check out the work that the International Field Program did this past summer in Buenos Aires!

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GPIA student Maria Carrizosa presented on her extraordinary work in in organizing the Convive Contest, in Colombia.

This was a presentation about a Colombian architecture and planning contest open to undergraduate programs in various Latin American countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama an Peru). The contest begun 9 years ago and has been growing at a great pace in scope, relevance and number of participants. After describing the process and its accomplishments, the talk’s purpose was to gather ideas ways to shape this initiative’s most recent plan: a Foundation aimed to promote the implementation of the winning proposals.

Maria project

Maria project2

Maria project3

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GPIA student Lena Simet presented the findings of her Thesis, which addressed the following research questions:

  1. Are rising inequalities a necessary evil in the process of urban development, or are they the byproduct of neoliberal policy choices, even being applied intentionally? 
  2. Are current housing policies in New York and Buenos Aires contributing to increasing, decreasing, and/or reinforcing spatial inequalities within these cities?


Here some of her findings:

Economic prosperity is often the primary goal of policy makers. Achieving it, however, fails to benefit every citizen equally. The cities of Buenos Aires and New York City, which rank today among the wealthiest and most attractive cities worldwide, also rank among the most unequal. This study investigates how state intervention projects reinforce existing socio-spatial inequalities within cities. Special attention is given to affordable housing policies, as both Buenos Aires and New York spend substantial sums of money on affordable housing, with inadequate and even insignificant results. Drastic increases in homelessness and informal settlements burden both cities, illustrating the consequences of insufficient access to affordable housing, one of the greatest failures of urban policy makers. As recent developments in Buenos Aires and New York City demonstrate, growth-focused state intervention projects thrust neighborhoods into spheres of economic competition, shaping the urban spatial structure in ways that reinforce existing patterns of socio-spatial inequality.


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Slum sanitation in Mumbai: Transnational networks and Urban Policy Making

Doctoral candidate Achilles Kallergis presented his current research on slum sanitation in Mumbai. His principle research questions are:

  • How transnational advocacy networks generate policy change?
  • Can they generate deeper institutional changes?
    • At what price? (question of efficiency vs. equity).

His Hypothesis is that the multiple streams model can help us understand the creation of a policy window and the elaboration of participatory sanitation delivery. The movement infrastructure model can help us understand the impact of transnational networks on the policy structure.

Some of his findings:

  • The combination of the multiple streams and the movement infrastructure models seem to provide an adequate framework for the analysis of the particular case.
  • What seems to have been a shifting point was the coalition between slum dwellers movement, SPARC (an NGO-professionals) and the WB (policy entrepreneurs?).
  • It seems that the infrastructure of the slum movement has played significant role in pursuing policies of service provision through a participatory approach.
  • Therefore, based on this case we can argue that there is a policy change and perhaps a shift in the power relations within the institutional arena.

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