Reappropriations of citizenship: migrants’ (and citizens’) struggles for housing São Paulo

Authors: Diana Thomaz*, Wilfrid Laurier University
Topics: Migration, Urban Geography, South America
Keywords: housing, migration, citizenship
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bonaparte, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper will analyse the participation of marginalized international migrants in the housing social movement in São Paulo, Brazil. In the last decades, urban planning and housing policies in São Paulo (as in great part of the world under neoliberal urbanization) have been largely determined by the demands of an increasingly financialized and speculative housing market, leading to a highly socially segregated city landscape and a housing deficit of over a million homes. As a response to the lack of affordable and dignified housing, squats have proliferated in the city. Some of these squats are ad hoc initiatives, while others are part of organized urban social movements that have a broad agenda for social justice and right to the city. Recently-arrived migrants are affected by São Paulo’s housing crisis and the lack of migration policies to promote their local integration. As a result, in the past years, they have started to join these movements and live in the squats alongside Brazilian citizens. Based on preliminary observations from fieldwork research conducted in São Paulo, I will discuss the challenges migrants face in finding a decent place to live, their recent participation in the squatting movement, and the (sometimes fragile) coalitions they make with citizens in order to claim for a right to the city. By engaging with the ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin and Nielsen 2008) literature, I will investigate the political agency and subjectivity of those who claim for rights and dignity despite lacking formal citizenship status.

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