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The right to the city centre: political struggles of street vendors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Nogueira, Mara and Shin, Hyun Bang ORCID: 0000-0002-1103-9221 (2020) The right to the city centre: political struggles of street vendors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Geography and Environment Discussion Paper Series (12). Department of Geography and Environment, LSE, London, UK.

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The paper aims to investigate the relations between work and urban space, focusing on the struggles of street vendors for the “right to the city centre” in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We join critical debates on Brazil’s internationally praised urban reform by focusing on informal workers. Beyond lacking the protection of labour laws, the “right to the city” (RttC) of such workers has been consistently denied through restrictive legislations and policies. In the context of the “crisis” of waged labour, we explore the increasing centrality of urban space for working-class political struggles. Looking at Belo Horizonte, the paper traces the relation between urban participatory democracy and the development of legal-institutional frameworks that restricted street vendors’ access to urban space in the city. In the context of an urban revitalisation policy implemented in 2017, we then explore the use of legal frameworks to remove street vendors from public areas of the city and the resulting political resistance movement. The discussion focuses on the emergence of the Vicentão Occupation, a building squatted by homeless families and street vendors in conflict with the local state. Though this case, we explore the radical potential of contemporary articulations of Henri Lefebvre’s framework emerging from the confluence of diverse local urban struggles for “the right to the city centre”. Ultimately we argue for an understanding of the RttC as a process and a site of continual struggle whose terrain is shaped, but cannot be replaced by, legal frameworks that need to be constantly contested and evolving to reflect the shifting socio-spatial relations.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre
Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2020 07:21
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2024 03:06

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