Indigenous People Migrate to the City: Visibility Versus Vulnerability

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Maria Sarah TELLES, Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil
Indigenous people migrate to the city: visibility versus vulnerability

Maria Sarah Silva Telles

The text addresses the issue of indigenous migration to urban space, based on the biographical reconstruction of two natives who arrived and settled in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in a successful process of constructing visibility of their identity in an urban context. Today, in Brazil, there are more than 315,000 indigenous people in the country's cities, representing 49% of the indigenous population. For the majority that migrates, the condition of vulnerability is aggravated by the precarious conditions marginalized groups encounter upon arriving or living in Brazil’s big cities. Most of the natives living in the cities remain invisible to society as a whole, which rejects their identity outside the village. Some of the terms used accuse the non-recognition of their indigenous identity: desalted, acculturated, assimilated (Albuquerque, 2015). Prejudice and discrimination complete the framework of urban vulnerability. I will use the biographical research method (Rosenthal, 2014) to provide understanding of the challenges and achievements of some indigenous people who migrate to the city and fight for the preservation of traditions and their identities. Migration of indigenous people to the cities has occurred since the 1950s, but they have usually sought to hide that identity. The city constituted a forbidden space, since the trip to the city implied in denying or hiding the indigenous identity and their cultural references. The Indigenous arrive in Rio either because they were expelled from their place of origin or because they could not find opportunity to study, to take care of health, to meet their claims. They were doomed to oblivion and invisibility. Though reluctantly, in Rio society has been made to see the struggles of indigenous people. That is the huge challenge under discussion in this text.