DRAN Team

The DRAN Team consists of university faculty from around the world, visiting scholars, and MIT research assistants. In addition to the network's core team, DRAN collaborates with several organizations (both governmental and non-governmental), international institutions, activist collectives, and community organizers. We are always interested in expanding our team and exploring new partnerships; if interested in collaboration, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Founder

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Balakrishnan RajAgopal

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is the founder of the Displacement Research and Action Network at MIT.  He is the current head of the International Development Group (IDG) and a Professor of Law and Development at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and founding Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice at MIT.  He is a leading scholar-activist of human rights and development and is well-known for his critical approach to development planning and the law and politics of the Third World.  He has been a member of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law and is currently on the Asia Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch and on the editorial boards of many journals. He has published numerous scholarly articles in leading law and social science journals and is the author of two books -International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003; 2nd edition forthcoming), and Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World (co-editor, Routledge, 2008).  He served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and was human rights advisor to the World Commission on Dams. He recently served as a member of the International Academic Advisory Council at the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey. His work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and French. He has published widely in the media on human rights, development and international law and issues concerning the global south in such publications as the Boston Globe, the Hindu, Washington Post, the Indian Express, El Universal, and the Nation and is a blogger at huffingtonpost.com.

COORDINATOR

DIANA XYLINA BELL

Diana Xylina Bell is a recent graduate of the Master in City Planning program at MIT, where she specialized in Housing, Community and Economic development in a global development context.  Her Master’s thesis examined contemporary land use policies in Quito, Ecuador from a lens centered on the spatial, historical, and political considerations of historically marginalized communities. Prior to her time at MIT, Diana dedicated 8+ years to policy and organizing work on campaigns for migrant rights, transit justice, worker rights and affordable housing.  At the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA Coalition) Diana led two statewide legislative and budgetary initiatives- one campaign aimed at securing equal higher education access for undocumented immigrant youth and the other aimed at increasing public funding for ESOL programs. At Community Labor United, Diana successfully led a statewide coalition of community and union partners in their efforts to win greater investment and equity in the state public transit system, including first time voting seats for riders in Regional Transit Authorities, a cap on fare increases and a mandate for statewide service assessments that involve rider, worker and community input. 

Diana has served on the boards of several leading advocacy organizations– including the founding board of the Student Immigrant Movement and the Executive Board of City Life/Vida Urbana. Currently, she helps lead the Boston Chapter of the US Friends of MST, a national network of individuals and organizations that support the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement

As an Ecuadorean American, Diana has a strong commitment to working in and learning from models of community, housing and economic development rooted in the Andean and Latin American experience. She has been involved in research projects in Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. 

Her research interests focus on the intersections of land rights, land use policy, participatory governance and development induced displacement, particularly in the Latin American region


MIT Faculty

ADVISORS

Fellows

AFFILIATED FACULTY

students

Past collaborators

Masters of City Planning:
Meredith Abood - Masters in City Planning
Aurora Kazi Bassett - Masters in City Planning
Anthony Medeiros - Masters in City Planning
Lindiwe Rennert - Masters in City Planning
Diana Xylina Bell - Masters in City Planning
Rida Qadri - Masters in City Planning
Leo Goldberg - Masters in City Planning
Fizzah Sajjad -Masters in City Planning
Rachel Finkelstein - Masters in City Planning
Claire Evans - Masters in City Planning
Alison Coffey - Masters in City Planning
Vishnu Prasad - Masters in City Planning

PhD:
Devanne Brookins - Department of Urban Studies and Planning PhD
Alpen Sheth - Department of Urban Studies and Planning PhD

Fellows:
Anjad Hithnawi - SPURS Fellow
Maria Lucrecia Bertelli - SPURS Fellow
Reazul Ahsan - MIT-UTM Malaysian Sustainable City Program Research Fellow

External:
Amanda Kraley - Wellesley College
Marianne F. Potvin - Harvard Graduate School of Design PhD