Thinking through the Possibilities of an Intersectional Right to the City in the context of Salvador, Brazil

Authors: Laura Vaz-Jones*, University of Toronto
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Gender
Keywords: urban inequality; right to the city; intersectionality; domestic workers; Afro-descendant feminism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


I analyze the possibilities and tensions within a refashioning of Lefebvre’s concept of the “right to the city”— the idea that even the most marginalized should have a say in the creation of urban space and the conditions of urban life (1996). Through exploratory research, I attempt to develop an intersectional right to the city that insists urban social justice is impossible without racial and gender justice. I do so by exploring organizing among Afro-Brazilian women domestic worker as a struggle for urban justice in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, using preliminary discourse and document analysis. Drawing on Black Feminist thought, feminist and postcolonial urban theory, and Afro-Brazilian feminism, I work to provide a corrective to right to the city scholarship and activism overlooking the distinctively racialized and gendered dimensions of urban exclusion. In turn, I examine how multiple axes of difference and power produce urban space and think through what possibilities for solidarity-building emerge from a right to the city framework that centers women of colour as important agents of urban change and that understands anti-racist and feminist movements as crucial to building more democratic urban futures. At the same time, I work through the epistemological tensions of reconfiguring canonical Marxian scholarship to produce southern theory in the context of the devaluation and dehumanization of Afro-Brazilian women domestic workers. I explore what kinds of politics, power relations, and epistemologies get reified or elided through this repurposing of the right to the city.

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