"A fairly comprehensive monograph, highly suitable for classroom use, that offers a wide range of information fit into traditional anthropological categories. . . . an interesting study of cultural integrity and pattern in a setting of what appears to be complex sociopolitical chaos." —American Anthropologist
"Whether or not one accepts Susan Lobo's optimistic analysis, her ability to translate the apparent chaos of shanty-town lives into such neat patterns and to help outsiders view life as the inhabitants do are important contributions." —Inter-American Review of Bibliography
"An extremely competent ethnography, simple and straightforward." —Anthropos
"A pleasure to read, a mine of information which will be useful in teaching students to formulate their own hypotheses." —International Journal of Urban & Regional Research
"Very well written and provides a great wealth of the liveliest sort of ethnographic detail." —Latin American Research Review
"Lobo's study of two squatter settlements in Lima provides a solid, well-written, detailed, traditional ethnography of poor families in a Third World urban setting." —Hispanic American Historical Review
"This well-written account . . . has a lot of heart and feeling for the human face of the urban poor." —International Migration Review
Beginning in the 1950s, an explosion in rural-urban migration dramatically increased the population of cities throughout Peru, leading to an acute housing shortage and the proliferation of self-built shelters clustered in barriadas, or squatter settlements. Improvised Cities examines the history of aided self-help housing, or technical assistance to self-builders, which took on a variety of forms in Peru from 1954 to 1986. While the postwar period saw a number of trial projects in aided self-help housing throughout the developing world, Peru was the site of significant experiments in this field and pioneering in its efforts to enact a large-scale policy of land tenure regularization in improvised, unauthorized cities.
Gyger focuses on three interrelated themes: the circumstances that made Peru a fertile site for innovation in low-cost housing under a succession of very different political regimes; the influences on, and movements within, architectural culture that prompted architects to consider self-help housing as an alternative mode of practice; and the context in which international development agencies came to embrace these projects as part of their larger goals during the Cold War and beyond.
For all of Brazil's efforts to reduce poverty-and its progress-the favelas in Rio de Janeiro still house one-third of the city's poor, and violence permeates every aspect of the city. As urban drug gangs and police wage war in the streets, favela residents who are especially vulnerable live in fear of being caught in the crossfire. Politicians, human rights activists, and security authorities have been working to minimize the social and economic problems at the root of this "war."
Living in the Crossfire presents impassioned testimony from officials, residents, and others in response to the ongoing crisis. Maria Helena Moreira Alves and Philip Evanson provide vivid accounts from grieving mothers and members of the police working to stop the war and, among officials, from Brazil's President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, who discusses his efforts to improve public security.
While much has been written on post-apartheid social movements in South Africa, most discussion centers on ideal forms of movements, disregarding the reality and agency of the activists themselves. In Living Politics, Kerry Ryan Chance radically flips the conversation by focusing on the actual language and humanity of post-apartheid activists rather than the external, idealistic commentary of old.
Tracking everyday practices and interactions between poor residents and state agents in South Africa’s shack settlements, Chance investigates the rise of nationwide protests since the late 1990s. Based on ethnography in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, the book analyzes the criminalization of popular forms of politics that were foundational to South Africa’s celebrated democratic transition. Chance argues that we can best grasp the increasingly murky line between “the criminal” and “the political” with a “politics of living” that casts slum and state in opposition to one another. Living Politics shows us how legitimate domains of politics are redefined, how state sovereignty is forcibly enacted, and how the production of new citizen identities crystallize at the intersections of race, gender, and class.
The residents of Caxambu, a squatter neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, live in a state of insecurity as they face urban violence. Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela examines how inequality, racism, drug trafficking, police brutality, and gang activities affect the daily lives of the people of Caxambu. Some Brazilians see these communities, known as favelas, as centers of drug trafficking that exist beyond the control of the state and threaten the rest of the city. For other Brazilians, favelas are symbols of economic inequality and racial exclusion. Ben Penglase’s ethnography goes beyond these perspectives to look at how the people of Caxambu themselves experience violence.
Although the favela is often seen as a war zone, the residents are linked to each other through bonds of kinship and friendship. In addition, residents often take pride in homes and public spaces that they have built and used over generations. Penglase notes that despite poverty, their lives are not completely defined by illegal violence or deprivation. He argues that urban violence and a larger context of inequality create a social world that is deeply contradictory and ambivalent. The unpredictability and instability of daily experiences result in disagreements and tensions, but the residents also experience their neighborhood as a place of social intimacy. As a result, the social world of the neighborhood is both a place of danger and safety.
In Making Freedom Anne-Maria Makhulu explores practices of squatting and illegal settlement on the outskirts of Cape Town during and immediately following the end of apartheid. Apartheid's paradoxical policies of prohibiting migrant Africans who worked in Cape Town from living permanently within the city led some black families to seek safe haven on the city's perimeters. Beginning in the 1970s families set up makeshift tents and shacks and built whole communities, defying the state through what Makhulu calls a "politics of presence." In the simple act of building homes, squatters, who Makhulu characterizes as urban militants, actively engaged in a politics of "the right to the city" that became vital in the broader struggles for liberation. Despite apartheid's end in 1994, Cape Town’s settlements have expanded, as new forms of dispossession associated with South African neoliberalism perpetuate relations of spatial exclusion, poverty, and racism. As Makhulu demonstrates, the efforts of black Capetonians to establish claims to a place in the city not only decisively reshaped Cape Town's geography but changed the course of history.
A notable and tragic case of the struggle between legal and social justice
Reelfoot Lake has been a hunting and fishing paradise from the time of its creation in 1812, when the New Madrid earthquake caused the Mississippi River to flow backward into low-lying lands. Situated in the northwestern corner of the state of Tennessee, it attracted westward-moving pioneers, enticing some to settle permanently on its shores.
Threatened in 1908 with the loss of their homes and livelihoods to aggressive, outsider capitalists, rural folk whose families had lived for generations on the bountiful lake donned hoods and gowns and engaged in “night riding,” spreading mayhem and death throughout the region as they sought vigilante justice. They had come to regard the lake as their own, by “squatters’ rights,” but now a group of entrepreneurs from St. Louis had bought the titles to the land beneath the shallow lake and were laying legal claim to Reelfoot in its entirety. People were hanged, beaten, and threatened and property destroyed before the state militia finally quelled the uprising. A compromise that made the lake public property did not entirely heal the wounds which continue to this day.
Paul Vanderwood reconstructs these harrowing events from newspapers and other accounts of the time. He also obtained personal interviews with participants and family members who earlier had remained mum, still fearing prosecution. The Journal of American History declares his book “the complete and authentic treatment” of the horrific dispute and its troubled aftermath.
Though New York’s Lower East Side today is home to high-end condos and hip restaurants, it was for decades an infamous site of blight, open-air drug dealing, and class conflict—an emblematic example of the tattered state of 1970s and ’80s Manhattan.
Those decades of strife, however, also gave the Lower East Side something unusual: a radical movement that blended urban homesteading and European-style squatting in a way never before seen in the United States. Ours to Lose tells the oral history of that movement through a close look at a diverse group of Lower East Side squatters who occupied abandoned city-owned buildings in the 1980s, fought to keep them for decades, and eventually began a long, complicated process to turn their illegal occupancy into legal cooperative ownership. Amy Starecheski here not only tells a little-known New York story, she also shows how property shapes our sense of ourselves as social beings and explores the ethics of homeownership and debt in post-recession America.
"Robert Gay's study is well done. It provides a detailed look at two different forms of popular political organization in Brazil and how they relate to the state, local people, parties, and politicians.... Gay allows the reader to catch a glimpse of the enormous varieties of ways in which popular organizations relate politics to contemporary Brazil. There is no comparable book on Latin American politics."
--Scott Mainwaring, Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame
This urban tale of survival illustrates two versions of active, organized, aggressive participation in the political process.
Vila Brasil survives by exchanging votes for favors. The president of its neighborhood association promises political candidates that the favela will vote in masse for the highest bidder. Vila Brasil has maneuvered this power to become one of the best served favelas in the region--for the moment, at least.
Vidigal, on the other hand, steadfastly refuses to support candidates who campaign on boasts or promises alone. Vote-selling, or buying, is not permitted. To do well in Vidigal, a politician must talk not only about providing electricity and water in the favela, but also about wages, education, and health care over the longer term.
In analyzing the favela's different responses to the popular movement that confronted the military in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the author makes a significant contribution to literature about relationships among urban poor, political elites, and the state.
Shantytowns once occupied a central place in America’s urban landscape. Lisa Goff shows how these resourceful dwellings were not merely the byproducts of hardship but potent assertions of self-reliance. Their legacy is felt in sites of political activism, from campus shanties protesting apartheid to the tent cities of Occupy Wall Street.
Over twenty years of civil war in predominantly Christian Southern Sudan has forced countless people from their homes. Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan examines the lives of women who have forged a new community in a shantytown on the outskirts of Khartoum, the largely Muslim, heavily Arabized capital in the north of the country.
Sudanese-born anthropologist Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf delivers a rich ethnography of this squatter settlement based on personal interviews with displaced women and careful observation of the various strategies they adopt to reconstruct their lives and livelihoods. Her findings debunk the myth that these settlements are utterly abject, and instead she discovers a dynamic culture where many women play an active role in fighting for peace and social change. Abusharaf also examines the way women’s bodies are politicized by their displacement, analyzing issues such as religious conversion, marriage, and female circumcision.
An urgent dispatch from the ongoing humanitarian crisis in northeastern Africa, Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan will be essential for anyone concerned with the interrelated consequences of war, forced migration, and gender inequality.