Dispersions : black communities and urban segregation in Porto Alegre, Brazil

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Pólvora, Jacqueline Britto

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In Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the entrance of the city, the Workers Party (PT) implemented a re-urbanization project called the Entry of the City. This project included an investment in urban infra-structure and formalization of “informal” spaces where 3200 poor families live, most of them Black and Afro-descendent people. These families were removed from their original places and were settled in housing projects in the same neighborhood. This dissertation is a study of the historical processes of inclusion and exclusion, and removal and resettlement of Black families in Brazilian urban spaces. I use Porto Alegre both to discuss general trends of racial politics in Brazilian urban spaces and to discuss how poor and Black people are continuously involved in historical processes of racialization promoted by the Brazilian society. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the Entry of the City, this dissertation analyzes different levels of racialization of Black people and their spaces, as well as different levels of segregation within segregated areas. This dissertation is divided in four sections in which I demonstrate: a) the history of urbanization of Porto Alegre and the genesis of the formation of this space as a process of removal and dispersion of Black families; b) the contemporary processes of this history that disperse and segregate Black people; c) how everyday life of the Entry of the City reinforces the processes of segregation of Black people despite the generalized poverty that affects the residents of that area; and d) how common senses about Black families and other poor people are expressed in the local newspaper and contribute to racialize Black people as well as poor neighborhoods. This dissertation presents three main arguments: first, I argue that race is an independent category that must be used to analyze urban segregation in Brazil. Second, Porto Alegre displays a disperse segregation instead of configuring ghettos in its space. Third, the exclusion and segregation of Black families within segregated areas is because of and constitutive of the dynamics of the racialization processes of Black families that are present in Brazilian urban spaces.




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