The Marsha Ritzdorf Award for the Best Student Work on Diversity, Social Justice, and the Role of Women in Planning

I’m announcing the award both here and at the Awards lunch in Salt Lake City, largely because I think young people can use all the (good) exposure they can get in the coming years of academic markets.

The Marsha Ritzdorf Award for the Best Student Work on Diversity, Social Justice and the Role of Women in Planning Recognizes superior scholarship reflecting concern with making communities better for women, people of color and/or the disadvantaged.

This year’s panel consisted of Professor Deborah Howe from Temple University and Assistant Professor Smita Srinvas from Columbia University and me. I am so grateful that I had such a distinguished, engaged, and insightful group to help with selecting the winner out a pool of really great submissions this year.

Please see the abstract below from the winning submission by Isabelle Anguelovksi, nominated by Professor JoAnn Carmin at MIT. If you have a chance, please congratulate Ms. Anguelovski, and I am sure she would be happy to disseminate copies of her manuscript to those interested in the topic.

Isabelle Anguelovski
PhD Candidate,
Department of Urban Studies and Planning Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
US Email:

Title: Understanding the dynamics of community engagement of corporations in communities: The iterative relationship between dialogue processes and local protest at the Tintaya Copper Mine in Peru

Abstract: Corporate social responsibility refers to businesses’ efforts to improve their social and environmental performance. Generally, corporations implement universal standards and codes of conduct or publish reports on their activities. However, in controversial instances, such as environmental conflicts between corporations and communities, some companies have engaged communities and NGOs through deliberative processes. Despite the goal of achieving consensus among stakeholders, dialogues do not always resolve conflicts. This paper examines the dialogue processes between the company BHP Billiton and communities around the Tintaya mine (Peru) in order to understand why residents resisted deliberative spaces created to address their concerns. Through interviews and focus groups with protesters, I show that resistance was not intended to undermine deliberation, unlike what democracy theorists have previously asserted, but rather, foster openness and understanding among the corporation and residents. Findings suggest that an iterative relationship between dialogue and resistance can improve inter-cultural relations and mitigate power differentials.

Lysistrata, Columbian women, and road paving

One of the problems with not traveling outside the US or, more particularly, not traveling outside of global cities concerns the tendency to take infrastructure for granted.

Thus, the “crossed legs” movement among the women of Barbacoas has generated more puerile snickering from journalists around the web than the issue deserves. The women are withholding sex until their village receives a paved road connection to the rest of the province’s highway network.

I have never been to Columbia–I was invited once and I had to turn down the invitation–but snickering aside, let me just be very direct:

Dirt paths in places like Columbia are f–ing miserable, mmm’kay?

So if you are of the news outlety type of person to hee-hee at the story, take a look at the story from the Gaurdian reporter, who actually gets it:

At first, the protest met with muted amusement and opposition from the town’s residents. But as the movement grew, the men’s initial resistance quickly turned to support. It easy to understand why their resolve is not faltering: the lack of a paved road means that even the cost of food is five or six times that of other regions of the country. But this isn’t just about the price of goods or convenience: there have been many deaths linked to the lack of adequate infrastructure, as ambulances get stuck in the mud trying to reach town. Judge Marybell Silva, spokesperson for the movement, said: “I personally had to see a 23-year-old pregnant woman die along with her unborn baby just because the ambulance got stuck on the road and could not reach [the capital of the region]. That’s when I knew we had to do something.”

Pavement is one of the most multimodal forms of infrastructure we’ve got. You can bike on it, walk on it, push wheelbarrows on it, and, yes, drive on it.

So while Bogota has enjoyed a great deal of attention and its former mayor became a poster boy in the western media for investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure, this village has been isolated and its residents set at a permanent disadvantage because they can’t get some paving done.