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Professors Jamie Lew and Mara Sidney are conducting a comparative research project on urban refugees. This comparative study examines how international migration and policies of integration affect migrants and native-born populations in cities in the U.S. and Switzerland. The study based on interviews, surveys, policy analysis, GIS mapping examines how various migrant groups and native-born populations in given urban space and political economy, negotiate the changing demographics, race relations, integration policies both at the local and national level of governance. Working closely with a cohort of GUS doctoral students and international scholars, this collaborative research project is a long-term effort with universities and scholars outside of the U.S. to help build students’ comparative research skills, publication and conference presentation opportunities, and fieldwork experiences in cities both in and outside of the U.S.

One of the key doctoral students who has worked on this urban refugee project is a third year GUS doctoral student, Tolu Lanrewaju. Tolu Lanrewaju earned a USAID fellowship at Rutgers University-Newark, allowing her to begin her dissertation research on urban refugees and forced migration in Cape Town, South Africa. During the summer of 2017, she began her fieldwork in South Africa, interviewing migrants who had fled violence and privation in Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo only to find themselves in continued peril in the townships. Lanrewaju conducted more than three dozen interviews — facilitated by the Refugee Legal and Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group — in the Lower Crossroads and Philippi neighborhoods. She traveled to South Africa as a research fellow collaborating with the Global Development Lab of the United States Agency for International Development. Lanrewaju earned her BA from Princeton University and her MA from RBHS.

A woman waves an Egyptian flag in the foreground. below is a crowd of thousands holding signs and banners. A city sits beyond the crowd.

Professor Nermin Allam in the Department of Political Science studies gender politics and social movements in the Middle East. Her book on women’s engagement in the uprising, titled Women and the Egyptian Revolution Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings, gave rise to her current project on the politics of hope and disappointment among women’s groups. Doctoral student Sajeda Goudarzi helped Dr. Allam collecting studies, reports, and media coverage on feminist activism, its diverse outcomes, and the emotions associated with it. The research highlights some of the ways in which female activists reconfigured their actions, demands, and strategies amid complex entanglements between hope, failure, and pragmatism. Sajedeh has a BA in architecture engineering, an MA in urban management and an MA in diplomacy and international relations. She worked as a researcher and journalist for over a decade before joining GUS and participated in many political campaigns on democracy and inequality in Iran. Her current research focus is the study of contentious politics, women, and Islam in the Middle East.

Professors Mara Sidney and Domingo Morel, as part of a faculty-GUS student team, examined the politics of gentrification in cities, with a particular focus on Newark. Working closely with Sidney and Morel as well as Professor Akira Drake Rodriguez from University of Pennsylvania’s Department of City and Regional Planning, GUS students Nakeefa Garay and Adam Straub were key members of the research team. They developed measures to understand the degree to which Newark has experienced gentrification, and explored the types of policies that city officials have used to address gentrification. Recently published in Urban Affairs Review, their article “Measuring and Explaining Stalled Gentrification in Newark, NJ: The Role of Racial Politics” finds that market conditions and relevant policies do not fully explain the nature of gentrification in Newark, positing that racial politics is a significant factor. Garay and Straub’s individual dissertation research focuses on related areas, with Garay exploring civic engagement in community development while Straub’s work centers on the emergence of housing justice activism and its impacts on housing policy. Garay earned her BA and MA from Rutgers University and worked in the field of community development before beginning her doctoral work, while Straub earned his BA from Vassar College and his MA from CUNY School of Urban and Labor Studies.

Professor Sean T. Mitchell, a cultural anthropologist, works with doctoral student Thayane Brêtas, who helps with data analysis and transcriptions from his long-term research project, supported by the National Science Foundation. The research investigates changing class relations in Brazilian cities and how they affect political subjectivity and action. The project examines political subjectivity among Brazil’s so-called “new middle class.” In recent years, matters have turned for the worse for much of this population, as Brazil has been beset by economic contraction, austerity policies, and fiercely contentious politics. Brêtas has her BA and MA in Law from University of Rio De Janeiro.

A mural of a nurse is painted on a grey brick wall in front of a sidewalk cleared of the snow on the ground. The black nurse is in blue scrubs matching the background. Her hair is in curlers and she has a mask on. Behind her head is a yellow circle like a halo. The piece is titled

Professor Mara Sidney is working with GUS student Tamara Velasquez Leiferman on a new project exploring the dual impacts of gentrification and the COVID-19 pandemic in the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of northern Manhattan, in New York City. Before the pandemic, these places were endangered species, the parts of Manhattan with the most units of affordable housing, even though the stock of privately-owned rent-stabilized housing has been shrinking. COVID-19 rates were among the highest in the city, in part because “essential workers” live here. This project will link residents’ oral histories with policy analysis of the public and private spaces that are important in their daily lives. It will show how individual lives intersect with policies to produce neighborhoods. Sidney and Velasquez Leiferman will collect oral histories to understand how residents experience and make sense of neighborhood changes, and how they respond; they will interview government officials, NGO staff, and real-estate professionals about policies that have shaped the operation of neighborhood spaces and services, whether housing, parks, transit, or commerce. The project will examine theoretically and empirically how residents’ use of neighborhood sites, in conjunction with policies implemented or altered locally, produce neighborhood-specific changes, whether small or large. The study builds on Sidney’s expertise in urban policy and Velasquez Leiferman’s experience researching policy changes and their impacts in New York City and Mexico City. Velasquez Leiferman holds a BA in International Relations from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and an MS in International Affairs from The New School.

Economics Professor Jason Barr and doctoral student Maryam Hosseini are working on “The Simhattan Project: Growing the City from the Ground Up—An Application to Housing Affordability in New York City.” Housing affordability is a major issue in large metropolitan regions. New York City, for example, has implemented a suite of policies that, intentionally or not, have restricted the supply side of the city’s housing market. The combined effects of rent stabilization, zoning regulations, real estate tax policy, and landmarking having reduced the construction of middle income housing in the city. Barr and Hosseini are developing a simulation model of cities to understand how these policies affect the supply of housing, using the relatively new method of agent-based modeling, where they create an artificial city populated with residents and businesses. The aim is to create a kind of cyber-laboratory that allows them to see how the various types of policies determine the location and supply of housing. The goal is to use the model as a policy tool to suggest what can be done to aid in the construction of more affordable units. Hosseini earned her BA in economics from University of Tehran and was enrolled in MA program at University of Warsaw.

Political Science Professor Jyl Josephson and GUS student Nooreen Fatima have been working on a research project on community organizing during the COVID19 pandemic. They have collected data on and interviewed leaders from a network of community organizations in the U.S. Josephson and Fatima gave a paper on the research in April 2021 for the Western Political Science Association meeting titled “Pandemic-era organizing by broad-based community organizations,” and they will be giving a paper on November 11 at the Northeastern Political Science Association meeting titled “Organizing and democracy in a pandemic.”

A diverse group of dozens of children of about 10 years old.

Law Professor Elise Boddie is working with GUS doctoral student Josh Musicant on projects that seek to advance racial equity in public schools.  Boddie is the Executive Director of The Inclusion Project (TIP) at Rutgers-Newark and is also the Newark Director for the university-wide Rutgers Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice.  Musicant previously worked as an educator in the Detroit public schools.  He holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (PPE) and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan.

The Inclusion Project works to promote racial equity and inclusion in law and policy through research and community practice, with a primary focus on creating and sustaining racial equity in public education.  Boddie works in partnership with diverse coalitions of stakeholders across New Jersey, including students, faith leaders, researchers, civil rights and social justice advocates and community members.  Musicant is researching the literature on the effects of demographic mismatch between teachers and students, and transformative pedagogical approaches for teaching in integrated classrooms, some of which Musicant implemented in his previous work as an educator in Detroit Public Schools. His research will culminate in a report that will be circulated to TIP’s community partners, as well as state and local officials whose work and advocacy intersects with public education.