Back to All Events

Unsettled Resettlements: Community, Belonging & Livelihood in Rio de Janeiro's Minha Casa Minha Vida

  • K6.63, Strand Campus Strand London United Kingdom (map)

Dr Melissa Fernández is an Associate Professorial Research Fellow at LSE London, Department of Geography and Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck’s Department of Psychosocial Studies. She is an urban sociologist with an interdisciplinary background, focusing on the spatialisation of inequalities, and the geographies of home and place-making. Amongst others, her research has spanned the history and politics of a public housing demolition in Puerto Rico, forced evictions and resettlements in Rio de Janeiro, the formation of co-housing in London and, most recently, she has been investigating the links between new forms of urbanisation in five South Asian countries and migrant construction work. Her work is concerned with post-colonial forms of urban belonging and exclusion, particularly through housing displacement, in the Global North and South, and alternative forms of house-making. Issues of race, gender and culture cut across all of these interests.

Presentation Abstract

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is well known for its stark socio-economic and environmental contrasts -- a clashing reality that has been further demarcated by the mega-project initiatives propelled by the municipality as necessary infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games and beyond. Criss-crossing the city, as well as expanding it into new frontiers, these projects have also required the massive (and official) eviction (remocoes), displacement and relocation of long-term residents and city workers. While the negative housing legacy of mega-events has been spelled out extensively by the UN's Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and the Human Rights Council, by scholars from around the world and by local activists, the complex relationship between these processes and individual's livelihoods have been less attended to. This presentation will draw on surveys and life-history interviews from residents of two different housing sites, recently resettled by the Minga Casa Minha Vida housing programme. Each of these locations offers a distinct yet interrelated perspective regarding attachment to home and community, everyday links to the city and senses of belonging, informal labour and political activism or antagonism. By placing voices of resettlement in dialogue, the presentation seeks to unsettle the mainstream discourses and understandings of resettlement policies -- and their unsettling consequences. It considers the compounded emotional, psychological and material dimensions of housing evictions in relation to the socio-spatial connections between home, communtiy and work. The realm of (precarious) labour provides additional nuance to our understandings of the emotional process of home loss, at the same time that it allows for the gendered, raced and classed dimensions of Rio's accelerated urban and social transformation to be further highlighted and explored.

Some background (2013) information can be found here:

This talk will be followed by a Q&A and wine.