Somayeh Chitchian is an architect, urban researcher and a doctoral student at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. She is also a doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Germany. Her research focuses on the urban geography of immigration. Her work lies at the intersection of critical urban theory and migration studies, and explores the reciprocal relationship between processes of urbanization, changing geographies of urban governance, and spatialities and institutional terrains of migration. Moving beyond the inherent ‘city’-centric and ethno-centric focus in migration research, Chitchian’s work seeks to reconceptualize the object of migration studies' analysis in the context of contemporary urban forms of geo-economic and geo-political interscalar restructuring, and aims at opening up new cartographic and representational tools and techniques for geographic analysis. Her research “Middle Eastern Immigration Landscape in America” won Harvard ESRI Development Center Student of the Year Award in 2014.
Chitchian, a Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Fellow, is a trained architect from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and holds a Master in Design Studies degree in Critical Conservation (distinction) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her master thesis at Harvard was titled “Other[ed] City: (Re)presentation of Muslim Identities in Contemporary Urban West”, which she has presented at conferences in Northeastern University (Migration, Mobility, and Movements, March '13) and Harvard Divinity School (Ways of Knowing, October '13). During her years in the Netherlands, she practiced as an architect at several firms in both Amsterdam and The Hague, where she collaborated on various residential and cultural projects, as well as the design of advanced building envelopes.
For the past years at Harvard, she has served as a Teaching Fellow for both the urban planning department as well as the MDes Critical Conservation track. She has also engaged as a research assistant in various projects at GSD, GSAS, and HarvardX: Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism (GESU); Architectural Imagination (first GSD online history-theory course); project management for the MDes Critical Conversation track; consultant for the rehabilitation project of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. She will continue to work on her doctoral research as a fellow at the Max Planck Institute.