FAVELAS, PUBLIC HOUSING AND THE RECONFIGURATION OF URBAN SPACE IN BRAZILIAN SLUMS
By Gustavo Rivera
The right to the city: the entitled and the excluded - The Urban Reinventors, Special issue, November 2009
This paper addresses the development of public housing estates within the favelas (slums) of Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Senhor dos Passos favela in Belo Horizonte, this paper explores how public housing transforms the meaning of living in favela spaces. In particular, it questions the ways public housing reconfigures residents’ sense of belonging, social relations, and subjectivities. The paper also questions the nature of public housing in favelas: is public housing part of a new favela with an increased presence of the Brazilian state or rather, a hybrid of formal (public housing) and informal (favela) spaces?
Gustavo Rivera Jr. received his A.B. in Anthropology from Princeton University and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Rivera’s primary research focuses on urban renewal, slums, spatial segregation and Brazilian culture. His dissertation will examine how public housing transforms the lives of slum dwellers in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city – a work funded by Fulbright-Hays and National Science Foundation. Rivera Jr. is also completing at documentary that will chronicle how slum dwellers of African descent are fighting gentrification by acquiring the status of a quilombo (runaway slave community). Rivera has lived in Houston, Paris, Chicago, and Belo Horizonte, and is currently writing his dissertation in Rio de Janeiro.