Marianne F. Potvin studies the intersection of humanitarian action and urban planning. Her research, entitled “Humanitarian Urbanism: Cities, Technology and the Hybrid Practices of Humanitarian Actors,” draws on urban theory, and science, technology, and society studies (STS) to explore the evolution of international aid organizations’ approaches to space and physical planning. Her work has been supported by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (2016/19) and the Harvard Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (2017/18).
Prior to Harvard, Marianne led field teams in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur, for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other NGOs to support refugees and victims of armed conflicts. In Kabul, she co-chaired the UNHCR Shelter Cluster’s Technical Group, and advised the Kabul Municipality on urban response strategies (2010). Her recent fieldwork focuses on the role of aid agencies in responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanese cities.
She teaches a graduate seminar on the theories of practice in crisis, conflict and recovery. She has written about urban resilience and the ethics of crisis mapping, and contributed to forums such as the UN-Habitat Informal Urbanism Hub, the OpenDemocracy.net’s Cities in Conflict Series, and the Design for Humanity Initiative.