[URBANTH-L]AAA Search for Panel: Heterotopias Bahianas: Street-children, middle-class youth, and the struggle for public space in urban Bahia, Brazil

Samuel Veissiere samuel.veissiere at mcgill.ca
Mon Mar 27 12:08:10 EST 2006

Hi all,

I am looking for a panel to present my paper at the 2006 AAA Meeting.

keywords: Urban Brazil; Space and Place; Public Space; ?Street 
Children?; Gated Communities; Participatory Ethnography; Critical 
Pedagogy; Social Change ?from below?.

Heterotopias Bahianas: Street-children, middle-class youth, and the 
struggle for public space in urban Bahia, Brazil.

	In their project on the city, the architect Rem Koolhaas and his 
graduate students noted that in postindustrial late-capitalist America 
where shopping is the only remaining ?public? activity, shopping malls 
symbolize the last vestiges of public space. Teresa Caldeira?s 
ethnography of violence and urban segregation in São Paulo reminded us 
that Brazil?s affluent classes live and experience ?public? life in 
similarly?but more aggressively?hyper-controlled air-conditioned 
spaces, while the majority of the population struggles for survival in 
violently disintegrating ?public? spaces.

	Set against the background of unprecedented disparities in the 
allocation of space, resources, and services, and the creeping 
diffusion of a commercially revitalized racial hegemony that muffles 
the gendered and racialized aspects of this politics of exclusion, this 
ethnography explores the ways in which public urban space is imagined 
and experienced by street-children and middle to upper-class youth in 
Salvador, Bahia.

	Veissière investigates the disintegration of public space and the 
emergence of new patterns of segregation and experiences of urban space 
(eg. gated communities, high-security shopping malls, shantytowns, 
crumbling working class neighbourhoods, territorial street life, ritual 
pilgrimages to Disneyworld for the affluent, etc) from the point of 
view of ?children? situated at opposing extremes of the Brazilian 
social pyramid.

	 This study hopes to shed light on asymmetrical experiences of the 
city and its new privatized and ?public? spaces by different actors, 
and expose the gendering and racialization of these spaces and of the 
very practice of domination and exclusion in this postindustrial 
Brazilian context.

	By examining and giving voice to radically different experiences of 
?childhood? and how they are constructed in different socio-economic 
spheres, this study also seeks to move beyond the dominant positivist 
view of childhood (Steinberg & Kincheloe, 2004) professed by most 
educators, psychologists, NGOs, and policy-makers concerned with ?the 
street-children question? (Hecht, 1998), and expose their failure to 
take into consideration the emancipatory power of the resilient modes 
of livelihoods and survival developed by these youngsters.

	In an effort to make the process of ethnographic research 
participatory and emancipatory, informants were invited to produce 
their own narratives and interpretations of their lived experience of 
space through a variety of media. As the project develops, street kids 
and middle-class informants/participants will be invited to participate 
in critical pedagogy sessions in which they can share their ?findings? 
and critically explore the paradoxical co-construction of their 
realities. It is hoped that this will enable the more privileged ones 
to re-imagine their realities, priorities, and allegiances, while 
assisting the street kids in identifying the structures that oppress 
them and drawing upon organizing themselves to take action.

	Thus, this project is concerned with structural and symbolic aspects 
of the human crisis in which the visible presence of ?street children? 
is only the tip of the iceberg, and seeks to address some of its 
cultural and cosmological foundations by engaging young social actors 
from different dimension of these interrelated realities and in 
Freirian tradition, to enable them to become critical readers and 
re-shapers of their worlds.

Thank you,



Samuel Veissiere

Joint PhD Program in International Development Education and Anthropology
Vice President (Multicultural Affairs), Education Graduate Students Society
McGill University
Room 533 Education Building
Tel: +1 (514) 398-5699
Fax: +1 (514) 398-4529

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list