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Ana Paula Pimentel Walker

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Ana Paula Pimentel Walker is an assistant professor in urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. She investigates how disenfranchised communities engage with urban governance and evaluates the significance of participatory institutions in planning socially and environmentally just cities.

Pimentel Walker’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies. She teaches graduate courses in participatory planning and community development, comparative housing, environmental planning, award-winning capstones, and comparative planning law.

She received a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, San Diego, master's degrees in both urban planning and Latin American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a law degree from Brazil.


Ana Paula Pimentel Walker’s research goal is to identify institutional designs and participatory planning practices that have the potential to produce socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable cities. She conducts three research projects:

1) “The Significance of Participatory Institutions in Planning Socially Just Cities” examines the outcomes of participatory urban governance from the perspective of those living in informal settlements and Afro-Brazilian territories. Pimentel Walker reflects on the evolving discourses of citizen participation in light of three decades of participatory budgeting and planning in Brazil. Her findings highlight how partisan politics and profit-driven redevelopment projects have undermined the initial effectiveness of democratic planning as a tool of sustainable slum upgrading.

2) “Legal Institutions and the Planning Process: Conflicts between the Right to Adequate Housing and to a Sustainable Environment,” with Prof. Arquero de Alarcón, they investigate how the São Paulo Courts manage a wicked problem of the Global South: environmental degradation and risk in areas informally occupied by very low-income families.

3) “Migrant-run organizations (MROs) in Michigan: Documenting the nature and scope of immigrant and refugee-led community-based organizations,” with Profs. Gonzalez Benson and Yoshihama, they investigate civic inequalities in the undercounting and underfunding of MROs. This project aims to identify and amplify the voices of MROs in Michigan, building coalitions with local institutions.

Research Area Keyword(s): Participatory budgeting and planning, community organizing, informality, ethnic land rights, environmental justice, migration and resettlement, Brazil, US.