I am an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning. My research and teaching are shaped by my journey across design, planning, and social policy over the past fifteen years, both as a scholar and as a practitioner. In my scholarship I examine the role of planning, policy, and law in the marginalization of some communities, especially Indigenous peoples and immigrants. I also explore possibilities for intercultural collaboration and solidarity work in contexts where structural power imbalances – such as settler colonial dispossession and forced migration – are at play.
I was trained as a professional designer in Chile, received a Master of Arts in Political Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and hold a PhD in Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia. Before joining TMU, I worked with governments in Chile and Canada conducting public consultations and social policy evaluation. I have also been involved in community-engaged research with immigrants and municipalities in Metro Vancouver, as well as supporting the struggles of the Mapuche nation for self-determination.
My work is grounded in the acknowledgement that academic and government practices have often harmed and exploited some groups in society. In my teaching I strive to create spaces for students to reflect critically on these complicit relations as they prepare for professional practice. My current work is guided by a joint research agenda with Mapuche partners in Chile, which follows the priorities identified locally in an attempt to put academic work at the service of Indigenous ways of planning. I publish and present my work both in English and Spanish as a way to open up spaces for dialogue regarding planning experiences in South and North America.
- Planning theory
- Social and community planning
- Equity, diversity and social justice
- Intercultural approaches to planning
- Planning and policy-making
- Institutional dimensions of planning
- Institutional and legal dimensions of planning
- Settler colonialism and planning
- Planning in intercultural contexts
- Social planning and policy-making
- Indigenous/settler relations
- Re-writing planning theory and history
My scholarship is guided by a key concern: to make visible the role of planning in the dispossession and marginalization of certain communities – particularly Indigenous peoples – while exploring ways to change such trajectory in increasingly diverse contexts. Previous research projects have examined policies related to Indigenous consultation, social planning as a catalyst for dialogue between Indigenous peoples and immigrants in cities, and making municipal planning more responsive to immigrant and refugee needs. My current research with Mapuche partners in Chile engages with questions of Indigenous land use planning and intercultural governance.
A Short film created as part of the project "Our lands, our terms: Fighting COVID-19 through grassroots territorial control on Lafkenche territory," which documented the rise of community checkpoints led by Indigenous communities and civil society organizations in a rural municipality in Southern Chile at the start of the COVID pandemic. The research is a collaboration with Natalia Caniguan and Miguel Melin, based at the Institute of Indigenous and Intercultural Studies at University of La Frontera, Chile, with support from the Wepu Lafkenche Association. The project was funded through a Faculty of Community Services COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Grant and funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Audiovisual work produced by students in the courses Advanced Planning Studio II and Advanced Field Research, Fall 2021. The courses were jointly re-designed by Dr. Magdalena Ugarte and Abigail Moriah and Simone Weir from the Black Planning Project, in order to centre the historical and contemporary experiences of Black communities with planning in Canada. Four Black-led community organizations in Halifax, Toronto, and Vancouver partnered with the students in the creation of the mini-documentaries: Akoma Holdings Inc. (external link, opens in new window) , A Different Booklist Cultural Centre (external link, opens in new window) (now Blackhurst Cultural Centre), Black Futures Now TO (external link, opens in new window) , and Hogan's Alley Society (external link, opens in new window) . Course redesign was supported by a Faculty of Community Services Anti-Black Racism Curriculum Development Fund and a Learning and Teaching Grant from the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).
- Ugarte, M. [In press]. "Institutional Ethnography and Decolonization in Planning: Exploring Potential and Limits." In Critical Commentary on Institutional Ethnography, edited by Paul Luken and Suzanne Vaughan. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Melin, M. & Ugarte, M. [In press] "Language, Territory, and Law: Mapuzugun as the Basis for Mapuche Spatial Planning and Territorial Reconstruction." In Land Back: Relational Landscapes of Indigenous Resistance Across the Americas, edited by Heather Dorries and Michelle Daigle. Dumbarton Oaks.
- Ugarte, M. & Caniuñir Railaf, V. [In press]. "Observing Mapuche Rights in Chile: North-South Indigenous Solidarities." In Canada-Chile Solidarity, 1973-1989: Testimonies of Civil Society Action, edited by Liisa L. North and Genevieve Dorais. Novalis.
- Afful, A., Johnstone, M., Marsman, V., Moriah, A., Sadu, I., Ugarte, M., Weir, S., & Yasin, A. [In press]. "Black Experiences with Planning in Canada: Expanding anti-racism competencies through community-engaged research and digital storytelling." In Routledge Handbook of University-Community Partnerships in Planning Education, edited by Jay Mittal and Megan E. Heim LaFrombois. Routledge.
- Ugarte, M., Caniguan, N., Melin, M., & Marihuen, J. [Accepted]. Caring for Life: Reframing Legality Through Grassroots Territorial Control in Tirua. Decolonizing Planning: Power and Knowledge in the Informal City, edited by Bjørn Sletto, Tanja Winkler, and Efadul Huq. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
- Ugarte, M. (2022). Antes de la ciudad: Reflexiones sobre la planificación territorial y urbana como instrumento de despojo indígena. In Descolonizando territorios urbanos: De la planificación colonial a respuestas desde la interculturalidad crítica, edited by Matthew Caulkins, Carlos Cornejo Nieto, Mauro Fontana, Yanina Herrera, Diego Benavente, and Steffano Vergara, pp. 23-46. Concepción: Universidad de Concepción.
- Ugarte, M., Fontana, M & Caulkins, M. (2022). Urbanización y despojo indígena: Repensando el imaginario espacio-jurídico en Chile en relación al pueblo mapuche. In Descolonizando territorios urbanos: De la planificación colonial a respuestas desde la interculturalidad crítica, edited by Matthew Caulkins, Carlos Cornejo Nieto, Mauro Fontana, Yanina Herrera, Diego Benavente, and Steffano Vergara, pp. 77-107. Concepción: Universidad de Concepción.
- Ugarte, M. (2021). Regulating the Duty to Consult: Exploring the Textually-Mediated Nature of Indigenous Dispossession in Chile. In Paul Luken and Suzanne Vaughan, Palgrave Handbook of Institutional Ethnography, pp. 213-235. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Ugarte, M. (2016). Before the city: Reflections about territorial and urban planning as an instrument of Indigenous dispossession [in Spanish]. In A. Orellana, F. Link, and J. Noyola (Eds.), Planetary urbanization and the reconstruction of the city (pp. 465-489). Santiago: RiL. [English e-book forthcoming]
- Ashraf, U., Kittredge, K., & Ugarte, M. (2016). Cultivating intercultural understanding: Dialogues and storytelling among First Nations, urban Aboriginals, and immigrants in Vancouver. In R. Thomas (Ed.), Planning Canada: A case study approach (pp. 75-83). Toronto: Oxford University Press.
- Ugarte, M., Caniguan, N, & Melin, M. (2022). Walking and telling the territory: Reclaiming Mapuche planning through oral histories and land-based methodologies. Third World Thematics. http://dx.doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1080/23802014.2022.2117406
- Melin, M. and Ugarte, M. (2019). Violencia, castigo y boicot: La escalada de criminalización contra el Logko Alberto Curamil en Chile. LASA Forum, 50(4): 36-40.
- Ugarte, M., Fontana, M., & Caulkins, M. (2017). Urbanisation and Indigenous dispossession: Rethinking the spatio-legal imaginary in Chile vis-à-vis the Mapuche nation. Settler Colonial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/2201473X.2017.1409397.
- Ugarte, M. (2014). Ethics, discourse, or rights? A discussion about a decolonizing project in planning. Journal of Planning Literature, 29(4): 403-414.
- Ugarte, M. (2014). Conflicts and collaboration among the forestry industry, the provincial government, environmental groups, and First Nations in British Columbia, Canada [in Spanish]. Case study developed for the Centre for Public Policy, Universidad Católica de Chile.
- Ugarte, M. (2014). Dispute Between Mining Company Platinex Inc., the Provincial Government, and the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation in Ontario, Canada [in Spanish]. Case study developed for the Centre for Public Policy, Universidad Católica de Chile.
- Dean's Service Award, Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University, 2023
- Curriculum Innovation Award (with Abigail Moriah), Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2022
- Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning (external link) , Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, 2019
- Peter Oberlander Medal and Prize, School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, 2019