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Sowing hope, harvesting justice: How Vila Nova Esperança transformed the environment into an ally to claim rights

Capuano Mascarenhas, Luciana LU (2019) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20191
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The presence of informal settlements in large cities of the developing world is a concrete expression of urban poverty. The residents of Brazilian favelas are more likely to be exposed to environmental risks, lower life quality and risks of eviction. Additionally, there is a common generalization of associating favela residents with illegality, criminality and pollution. Using a political ecology and environmental justice perspective, I study Vila Nova Esperança’s community in São Paulo, whose residents actively resisted the state-driven ‘degradation narrative’ that blamed them for degrading the recently created Tizo Park. To claim their right to stay, residents of Vila Nova Esperança collectively created a counter-narrative, cleaning... (More)
The presence of informal settlements in large cities of the developing world is a concrete expression of urban poverty. The residents of Brazilian favelas are more likely to be exposed to environmental risks, lower life quality and risks of eviction. Additionally, there is a common generalization of associating favela residents with illegality, criminality and pollution. Using a political ecology and environmental justice perspective, I study Vila Nova Esperança’s community in São Paulo, whose residents actively resisted the state-driven ‘degradation narrative’ that blamed them for degrading the recently created Tizo Park. To claim their right to stay, residents of Vila Nova Esperança collectively created a counter-narrative, cleaning their neighborhood, planting vegetables and building living spaces with reused materials.
I aim to understand how the environmental initiatives developed by residents support their struggle for staying in the area and getting access to public urban infrastructure. To understand what people are doing and what they take from it, I used participant observation, individual and focus group interviews. In addition, I conducted a quantitative online content analysis to assess the potential role
played by online media in disclosing Vila Nova Esperança as a role model. I describe the factors that enable and legitimize the environmental initiatives, as well as the tangible and intangible benefits which improve residents’ life quality. By changing the space they live in, residents go through a selfrecognition process that shows them they are capable and empowers them. This process attracted external actors to collaborate as partners and caught attention from the media. Throughout the years, Vila Nova Esperança has successfully gotten the right to stay and achieved access to basic services and infrastructure, provided by the same state agencies that once were seen as enemies. Drawing on the study of Vila Nova Esperança, it is possible to understand how favela residents are active agents of change and able to overcome status subordination, counter narratives representing them as ‘secondclass’ citizens and, in the long term, achieve justice. (Less)
Popular Abstract (Portuguese)
A presença de assentamentos informais em grandes cidades do mundo em desenvolvimento é uma expressão concreta da pobreza urbana. Moradores das favelas brasileiras estão mais sujeitos a estarem expostos a riscos ambientais, pior qualidade de vida e riscos de serem removidos. Além disso, há uma frequente generalização que associa moradores de favelas com ilegalidade, criminalidade e poluição. Usando uma perspectiva de ecologia política e justiça ambiental, pesquiso a comunidade Vila Nova Esperança em São Paulo, cujos moradores ativamente resistiram à ‘narrativa de degradação’ conduzida pelo estado, que os culpava por degradar o recém-criado Parque Tizo. Para reivindicar o direito de permanência, moradores da Vila Nova Esperança coletivamente... (More)
A presença de assentamentos informais em grandes cidades do mundo em desenvolvimento é uma expressão concreta da pobreza urbana. Moradores das favelas brasileiras estão mais sujeitos a estarem expostos a riscos ambientais, pior qualidade de vida e riscos de serem removidos. Além disso, há uma frequente generalização que associa moradores de favelas com ilegalidade, criminalidade e poluição. Usando uma perspectiva de ecologia política e justiça ambiental, pesquiso a comunidade Vila Nova Esperança em São Paulo, cujos moradores ativamente resistiram à ‘narrativa de degradação’ conduzida pelo estado, que os culpava por degradar o recém-criado Parque Tizo. Para reivindicar o direito de permanência, moradores da Vila Nova Esperança coletivamente criaram uma contra-narrativa, limpando seu bairro, cultivando uma horta e construindo espaços de convivência com materiais reutilizados.
Meu objetivo é entender como as iniciativas ambientais desenvolvidas pelos moradores auxilia em sua luta para permanecer no local e ter acesso a infraestrutura urbana pública. A fim de entender o que as pessoas fazem e o que ganham com isso, usei observação participante, entrevistas individuais e grupos focais. Adicionalmente, realizei uma análise quantitativa de conteúdo online, para avaliar o potencial papel da mídia em divulgar a Vila Nova Esperança como um caso exemplar. Descrevo os fatores que possibilitam e legitimam as iniciativas ambientais, assim como os benefícios tangíveis e intangíveis que melhoram a qualidade de vida dos moradores. Ao transformar o espaço em que vivem, os moradores passam por um processo de auto-reconhecimento que lhes mostra que são capazes e os empodera. Este processo atraiu atores externos para colaborar como parceiros e chamou a atenção da mídia. Ao longo dos anos, a Vila Nova Esperança exitosamente conseguiu o direito de permanecer e logrou obter serviços e infraestrutura básicos, fornecidos pelas mesmas agências estatais antes vistas como inimigas. Baseando-se no estudo da Vila Nova Esperança, é possível entender como moradores de favela são agentes ativos de mudança capazes de superar subordinação de status, contradizer narrativas que os representam como cidadãos de ‘segunda classe’ e, no longo prazo, alcançar justiça. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Capuano Mascarenhas, Luciana LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
environmental justice, sustainable favelas, urban poverty, degradation narrative, informal settlements, sustainability science, Brazil
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2019:004
language
English
id
8978400
date added to LUP
2019-06-03 15:05:10
date last changed
2019-06-03 15:05:10
@misc{8978400,
  abstract     = {The presence of informal settlements in large cities of the developing world is a concrete expression of urban poverty. The residents of Brazilian favelas are more likely to be exposed to environmental risks, lower life quality and risks of eviction. Additionally, there is a common generalization of associating favela residents with illegality, criminality and pollution. Using a political ecology and environmental justice perspective, I study Vila Nova Esperança’s community in São Paulo, whose residents actively resisted the state-driven ‘degradation narrative’ that blamed them for degrading the recently created Tizo Park. To claim their right to stay, residents of Vila Nova Esperança collectively created a counter-narrative, cleaning their neighborhood, planting vegetables and building living spaces with reused materials.
I aim to understand how the environmental initiatives developed by residents support their struggle for staying in the area and getting access to public urban infrastructure. To understand what people are doing and what they take from it, I used participant observation, individual and focus group interviews. In addition, I conducted a quantitative online content analysis to assess the potential role
played by online media in disclosing Vila Nova Esperança as a role model. I describe the factors that enable and legitimize the environmental initiatives, as well as the tangible and intangible benefits which improve residents’ life quality. By changing the space they live in, residents go through a selfrecognition process that shows them they are capable and empowers them. This process attracted external actors to collaborate as partners and caught attention from the media. Throughout the years, Vila Nova Esperança has successfully gotten the right to stay and achieved access to basic services and infrastructure, provided by the same state agencies that once were seen as enemies. Drawing on the study of Vila Nova Esperança, it is possible to understand how favela residents are active agents of change and able to overcome status subordination, counter narratives representing them as ‘secondclass’ citizens and, in the long term, achieve justice.},
  author       = {Capuano Mascarenhas, Luciana},
  keyword      = {environmental justice,sustainable favelas,urban poverty,degradation narrative,informal settlements,sustainability science,Brazil},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Sowing hope, harvesting justice: How Vila Nova Esperança transformed the environment into an ally to claim rights},
  year         = {2019},
}