The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Ignacia Ossul


Ignacia is a psychologist and social development practitioner, with an MSc in Social Development Practice, currently completing a PhD in Development Planning at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London. She has worked extensively with NGOs supporting the housing struggles of informal settlements in Latin America. In her different roles she has created and implemented social programs, supported the national housing policy, and helped open an office as Development Director in the UK. She was invited to speak at the United Nations in Geneva in the context of the post-2015 agenda for extreme poverty, and chaired the side-event at the 25th Human Rights Council, “Poverty, Exclusion and the right to Housing in Latin America”.

Her research interests focus on informal and social housing with a gender approach. Her work uses participatory visual methods, including participatory photography and video. As a Teaching Fellow at UCL, Ignacia has taught the Social Development and Practice module and supported field trips in Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania and London. She is also a registered researcher at the Centre of Studies of Home (UK) and a research associate at the Research Centre of Territorial Vulnerability and Informality (Chile).  


Research information

Title: The Politics of Home-Making: The case of informal settlements in Viña del Mar, Chile.

Keywords: Housing, home-making practices, gender, everyday politics, resistance.




The thesis examines the political role of home-making practices in women’s struggles for housing in informal settlements in Viña del Mar, Chile. More specifically, it looks at the conditions in which these practices emerge, and the ways in which they can open space for the advancement of social justice. It takes a case study approach and documents the home-making practices of two specific informal settlements. The thesis presents primary data collected through qualitative fieldwork.

Using feminist geographers’ notion of home as a way to interrogate initiatives of self-help, the thesis tackles a gap in research that tends to conceive of housing for the urban poor in material terms, and often disregards the subjective and political aspects of creating a home. This research is interested in the possibilities that the theoretical notions of home and home-making can offer to housing studies, particularly in understanding how housing mediates gender relations. 

The key argument that the thesis makes is that home-making practices of maintenance, construction and planning are not only routines of subsistence, but can also have a political function by embodying housing and gender claims. The findings show that, despite operating in a constrained structural landscape, low-income women are able to negotiate class and gender relations through everyday practices. It shows how women have opened space for the redistribution of resources, the recognition of their skills, and have claimed new spaces of representation and participation in the city. As such, this work contributes to the multidisciplinary debate around the role of housing and gender relations, as well as the understanding of everyday politics. 




Ossul Vermehren, I. (2018). Lo Político de Hacer-Hogar: Una mirada de
género a la vivienda autoconstruida / The Politics of Home-Making: A gender-based approach to self-help housing. Revista INVI. 33(93), 9-51.

Ossul Vermehren, I. (2018). Allegados. In A. Ledeneva (Ed.), The Global Encyclopedia of Informality, volume 2 (pp. 19–23). London: UCL PRESS.

Berroeta, H., Carvalho, L., Di Masso, A., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (2017). Apego al lugar: Una aproximación psicoambiental a la vinculación afectiva con el entorno en procesos de reconstrucción del hábitat residencial. Revista INVI, 32(91), 113–139.

Frediani, A., Monson, T., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (Eds.). (2017). Collective Practices and the right to the city in Salvador, Brazil. London: UCL Development Planning Unit. Retrieved from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development

Frediani, A., Monson, T., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (Eds.). (2016). Campaigning through Images: Exploring Housing Rights in North London. London: UCL Development Planning Unit. Retrieved from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development

housing gender