Neither Displacement Nor Compatible Investments: the case of the North Axis of Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Authors: Renan Pereira Almeida*, Universidade Federal de Sao Joao del-Rei, Pedro Patrício, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Marcelo de Brito Brandão, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Ramon Torres, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, South America, Social Theory
Keywords: gentrification, displacement, Latin America, infrastructure, urban sprawl
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Washington 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Focusing on the local understanding and avoiding the importation of epistemologies from the North, this paper discusses the relationship between infrastructural investments in poor areas and gentrification. Our case study is the North Axis (NA) of the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte (MRBH), Brazilian third largest urban agglomeration. The NA is the poorest zone of the MRBH and it has been the subject of investments, guided by the state government, which included roads improvements, iconic buildings and, housing. The paper uses large samples (Census and 893 questionnaires) to identify whether there is a relationship between those investments and gentrification in the area. Results indicate that social relations and urban conventions (Abramo 1994, 2007) predominate in families’ residential decisions in this society, implying that real estate developers have tremendous challenges to attract the elites to the area and to displace the poor – to change the spatial fix (Harvey 2006). Furthermore, a progressive national government (Labors’ Party) made policies to improve the lowers-classes’ living standards in the time-period analyzed, which also protected these classes of the perils of gentrification (Betancur 2010). Although the investments may not displace the poor residents, it was not compatible with their daily-life needs and increased the inequality within the area, evincing the unequal and combined spatial structure of Latin American metropolis (Dunford and Liu 2017; Oliveira 1981; Betancur 2014; Siqueira 2014), and illustrating a case of gentrification without displacement (Sabatini, Robles, and Vásquez 2009). Moreover, it illustrates the challenges to promote suburban centralities in poor areas.

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