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Dr. Ivani Vassoler
Dr. Ivani Vassoler

Dr. Ivani Vassoler

  • March 22, 2024
  • Marketing and Communications staff

One of the most pressing issues in the developing world — the growth of shantytowns — was the topic presented by Dr. Ivani Vassoler of the Department of Politics and International Affairs at the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies Conference.

Participant in a panel dedicated to Brazilian politics, culture, and society, Dr. Vassoler presented her research at the conference held at Colgate University about the potential of Social Urbanism to incorporate shantytowns (favelas) into the urban and social fabric of Brazilian metropolitan areas to ensure the “right to the city” to the residents of the most impoverished and vulnerable communities. She explained that Social Urbanism is an interdisciplinary urban planning perspective seeking bottom-up policies to address the precarious living conditions in favelas. “It is more than just bringing infrastructure to the favelas, like paved roads. Social Urbanism encompasses partnerships with favela dwellers, municipal governments, and the private sector to transform shantytowns into urban communities where residents can have access to education, job training, health clinics, and public services,” Vassoler explained. 

Vassoler added that Social Urbanism policies are now being implemented in the favelas of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, and Recife, a metropolitan area in the Brazilian northeast region. Favelas are a growing phenomenon in developing countries' urban areas. Because of the dismal living conditions, such as makeshift houses, lack of running water and garbage collection, and low education levels, favelas threaten human security. “Favela residents are vulnerable to disease, crime, and environmental degradation,” Dr. Vassoler said, adding the need for international cooperation to address this worldwide problem. 

Vassoler teaches international politics courses and coordinates the International Studies program at SUNY Fredonia. She is also Associate Editor of Urbana-Urban Affairs & Public Policy — a scholarly publication focused on urbanization, urban history, the political economy of cities, metropolitan development and local governments. For more information about the publication, go here.