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Who has the right to remain in place? Informality, citizenship and belonging in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Nogueira, Mara (2017) Who has the right to remain in place? Informality, citizenship and belonging in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.tv7lgfdw5y7d


The thesis looks at three conflicts related to the 2014 World Cup preparation in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In each of the cases, affected groups – informal workers, informal residents and middle-class citizens – engage with the state to claim rights over space. It examines how the entanglements between social class and legal/institutional developments engendered through “peripheral urbanisation” shape the capacities of those groups to affect formal/informal boundaries and have their demands legitimated. This research draws on the findings from a fieldwork in Belo Horizonte, which lasted eight months in total between 2014 and 2016 and involved archival research, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with relevant actors. Three cases are considered, which include: the Mineirão stadium redevelopment that displaced a group of informal workers while creating a conflict in a middle-class neighbourhood; the demolition of an informal settlement to make way for a transport infrastructure project; the construction of a hotel in a middle-class area against the will of local residents. The thesis presents three key findings. Firstly, the urban space production is affected by citizens’ capacity to engage with the state. While the state-society boundaries are blurry, citizens are unevenly empowered to have their demands validated and avoid displacement, i.e. the loss of place. Secondly, while informal residents have their rights partially recognised thanks to the “insurgent citizenship” struggles of the past, informal workers are not entitled to compensation because of the disassociation of work informality debates from spatial considerations. Finally, middle-class politics matter, as middle-class residents are better equipped to validate their claims and protect their place in the city. The research contributes to recent postcolonial debates on urban space production and informality. I show that both informal working and housing practices are interconnected through the place-making strategies of the urban poor as well as of the urban middle-class, all of which generate important implications for the reproduction of socio-spatial segregation and thinking of the Brazilian urban future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Mara Nogueira
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Shin, Hyun Bang

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