Outsiders inside the Favela: The Double Process of Being Outsider

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:27
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Hermilio SANTOS, Universidade Catolica Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Favela means an impoverished urban community, located not necessarily in the periphery of big cities, in which the urban services, when existent at all, are precarious as well as all other aspects of the everyday life. In the last decades social scientists emphasized the dichotomy between the poor, middle class and upper class areas, the so-called “asphalt” and the favelas, the so-called “hills”, since most of favelas in Rio de Janeiro are located in the several mountains of the city. This distinction accentuates how cities, especially Rio de Janeiro, with its gorgeous landscape, are divided. This differentiation is not accurate enough to describe the everyday life of those living in favelas, since it implicitly assumes that there would exist a kind of homogeneity in these urban areas. Conducting researches in favelas of three big cities in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Recife and São Paulo) in the last three years, it became clear some aspects of the hierarchies and stigma in the everyday life in favelas, in which some of their inhabitants experienced a double process of being outsider: as a favela inhabitant is already regarded as a nuisance in the city landscape; and as recent favela inhabitant, with weaker social bonds. Through biographical narratives of two generations of family members living in a favela of Rio de Janeiro, it became clear how the everyday life is in fact more complex than the social scientists and the public opinion used to assume, marked by a distinction between “hill” and “asphalt”, and also between different groupings inside a favela. The paper explores both aspects of this distinction. Considering the experiences of those living in neighbourhood with the same characteristics of a favela would contribute to a better understanding of impoverished urban spaces and helps to face it.