My research and teaching interests focus on urban development and civil society with an emphasis on housing policy, participatory governance, and Latin America.
In my current project – “More than a Roof and Four Walls” – I investigate the impact of self-managed housing projects on the lives of residents, including their perspectives on government and their political participation. The project grew out of the basic question of how housing can serve the needs of low-income citizens while empowering them to continue to hold the state accountable and improving their own quality of life. In 2022, with the support of a Fulbright Fellowship, I carried out fieldwork in three Brazilian cities: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador. I find that many residents felt empowered by their experience in constructing their own homes, though the program itself was plagued by extreme delays and inefficiencies. In a forthcoming manuscript, I show how these projects shape the lives of residents and suggest how self-managed, collective housing projects might be implemented in cities around the world.
This current project builds on about 15 years of research on the strategies of community organizations, participatory institutions, and housing policy. My second book, titled Democratizing Urban Development: Strategies and Outcomes of Community Organizations for Housing across the US and Brazil, examines the strategies organizations undertake to confront the crises of displacement and affordable housing across four cities in two very different countries. I am also the author of Civil Society and Participatory Governance: Municipal Councils and Social Housing Programs in Brazil (2013, Routledge Press) and have published articles in both comparative politics and Latin American studies journals.
At Rutgers University in Camden, I teach courses related to research design, international economic development, and poverty alleviation in the Department of Public Policy and Administration and comparative politics, development policy, and Latin American politics in the Department of Political Science. I also served as chair of the Department of Political Science from 2019-2021.