Over the summer of 2013, this research project conducted a preliminary ethnographic investigation of urban citizenship in the margins of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The study attempted to achieve three main goals: (1) Interrogate the role that urban citizenship plays in the marginalized communities of metropolitan Rio de Janeiro (2) Sharpen my focus on a particular socio-spatial problem related to urban citizenship and development in Rio and (3) Work towards geographically localizing and locating that problem in the city for future dissertation research. Past experience living and working in urban mobility in the region between 2011 and 2012 provided me with an initial network of local contacts. During the first weeks of my research, large citizen uprisings took to the streets of cities across Brazil, demanding their rights to the city. Through participatory observation, informant and expert interviews and unexpected events my projected was able to achieved my initial goals by broadening the object of focus beyond Rio’s squatter settlements. My field research revealed that the manifestation of inequality – whether during popular protests in central city streets or external interventions in the daily life of squatter community residents – does not negate the presence, persistence or exacerbation and reproduction of sociocultural marginality. It does, however, create new forms of urban citizenship that contest the fantasia [costume or fantasy] of development with both visible and invisible demands for their right to the city.
September 25, 2013