Maria Atuesta

PhD Candidate in Urban Planning

Maria Atuesta is a PhD candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and was a 2019 Meyer Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Her research examines resettlement experiences of internally displaced and demobilized persons in Colombia, who are today beneficiaries of two national programs providing a housing solution to each group. Starting from the premise that accessibility to housing is a key dimension of the social and political integration of populations affected by armed conflicts, her research explores the mechanisms through which policy planning, inter-institutional arrangements and project-based design intersect with everyday lives of displaced and demobilized beneficiaries of public housing solutions. Based on two case studies, one housing project for displaced and another for demobilized populations, she is now conducting archival research, participant observation, interviews and cartographic exercises with displaced and demobilized beneficiaries of each housing project, to understand how they relate to surrounding communities and public entities, how they construct their own notions of citizenship, and whether, and how, these relations are mediated by policy planning, project design and inter-institutional arrangements. Maria has worked on policy research projects for the World Bank, Colombia’s National Planning Office and the Center for Community Innovation at UC Berkeley. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics from her hometown university in Colombia, Universidad de los Andes, and was awarded with a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. She is advancing her doctoral dissertation work with support from the GSD Real Estate Research Grant and the USIP-Minerva Fieldwork Fellowship.

Headshot of Maria Atuesta.

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