Marianne F. Potvin’s doctoral research lies at the intersection of urban and humanitarian studies, and explores the impacts that humanitarian action has on urban environments and the life of populations affected by forced migration, war and natural disasters. Drawing on critical urban theory, science technology and society studies as well as critical legal studies, she seeks to define new linkages between humanitarianism and the idea of a “right to the city” for refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals.
With a focus on conflict areas, her professional experience includes humanitarian assignments with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international NGOs in Iraq (2011), Afghanistan (2009-2010), and Darfur (2007-2008). In Kabul, Potvin also co-chaired the technical arm of the Emergency Shelter Cluster where she participated in reviewing shelter policies with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Potvin is a licensed architect and has worked in design practices in the West Bank, Canada, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. She holds a B.Sc in Architecture and a M.Arch. from the University of Montreal. In 2013, she received a Master in Design Studies in Risk and Resilience, with distinction, from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she was awarded the Dimitris Pikionis Award for outstanding performance in her program. At Harvard, Potvin is a doctoral researcher with the Urban Theory Lab. She also serves as a teaching fellow in the Environmental Science and Public Policy concentration, and is engaged in interdisciplinary research on the occupational health of humanitarian workers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Marianne Potvin has presented her work on Humanitarian Urbanism at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, the UN-Habitat Hub on Informal Urbanism in Munich, the Harvard Design for Urban Disaster Conference in Cambridge and the 2013 International Sociological Association Conference in Berlin. She has published articles in the Cities in Conflict Series of the digital commons OpenDemocracy.net.