Contesting the neoliberal metropolis: macroeconomics and/in the city and the 2013 protests in Brazil

April 16, 2014  • Posted in Member Projects  •  0 Comments

Felipe Magalhães – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil – Department of Geography

A wide range of heterogeneous social and economic processes has re-shaped the Brazilian metropolis in the last three decades. Starting with the economic crisis in the early 1980s, Brazilian big cities witnessed the generalization of violence, the spread of gated communities, re-democratization and participative forms of planning, the return economic growth, deteriorating public services and a concomitant growth of private markets for urban collective consumption, income distribution through policy, gentrification, urbanization of favelas, among many others. Since the 1980s, a very re(per)sistent form of mutant neoliberalism has changed the ways in which it impacts everyday life in the big city, and from stagflation with capital flights to the return of the export-oriented model of growth, macroeconomics has made itself present in the urban scale in decisive ways. Neoliberalism has also been a strong obstacle to the projects of democratizing urban planning through participation in the tradition of the Brazilian “urban reform” movements, that recognize the problem (and the potentials) of trans-scalarity as a challenge for the agenda. My research approaches the neoliberal production of space and this trans-scalar dynamics of neoliberal restructuring in its interactions with urban planning, focusing on the three largest metropolitan areas of the country: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. I also approach the 2013 political protests and the new constellation of social movements related to this context through participant observation and in-depth interviews, trying to identify connections and associations to the wider processes inserted in the relation between neoliberalism and the metropolis.

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