"Streets are not a place to live": the experience of the Popular Census, mapping exclusion and violence in Buenos Aires

Authors: Monica Farias*, Institute of Geography, University of Buenos Aires
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Buenos Aires, Homelessness, Alliance Building, Exclusion, Rights
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Iberville, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although access to affordable housing in the City of Buenos Aires has dramatically aggravated since 2007, the successive administrations keep underestimating the number of homeless population, now releasing estimates of 1,000 over a 3 million city population. Interestingly though, according to local Law 3706/10, is mandatory for the city government to conduct an annual census of homeless population and people at risk of becoming homeless; yet, this type of study was never conducted even when the housing crisis was publicly declared in 2007. In response to this negligence, in May 2017 over thirty social and grassroots organizations, leftist political parties and homeless people with the support of the ombudsman office, organized the First Popular Census of People in the Streets with results that quadrupled the above estimates. In this presentation I discuss the experience of the Popular Census in three critical ways: first, as a strategy of visibilization of a stigmatized and neglected population, questioning the imaginative geographies of a "middle-class" city; second, as a tool to expose the close relationship between homelessness, social control and institutional violence; and third, as an experience of alliance-making across social difference. I finally reflect on the ways the Popular Census could translate into a transformative experience that challenges capitalist practices of dispossession while also build broader political alliances between different sectors of the civil society.

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