CUPFA Special Project talk by Dr. James Freeman – Feb 4, 2016 at 6:30pm

“Gentrification and the Creative Economy in a “Pacified” Rio de Janeiro Favela”

Thursday February 4, 2016
Burritoville, 2055 rue Bishop
6:30-8:30pm followed by a social event

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This talk presents the results of fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro during the Summer of 2015, which was funded by a CUPFA Special Project’s Grant.

Rio de Janeiro is in the midst of dramatic transformation as part of a mega event led strategy of urban development, centered on the recent soccer World Cup and the upcoming 2016 summer Olympics.  The business of the games is highly dependent on a policy of favela pacification, where military occupation displaces drug gangs and among other things opens housing markets to wealthier outsiders, displacing long-time residents. In the beachside favela of Vidigal, North American style residential gentrification appears to be well underway. The community has long had a vocation for the arts, and artists seem to be leading the way in the class transformation of the neighborhood, as middle-class Brazilians and foreigners move in to this once stigmatized neighbourhood to take advantage of an arts scene, an emerging cultural economy and stunning views at a discount. While there is much talk of displacement and exclusion, a minority of native Vidigal residents have been able to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by pacification. Through a series of interviews with Vidigal residents James addresses the question of who wins, who loses and why. How does residential gentrification led by artists and bohemians (facilitated by military occupation) look in a Brazilian context and what can it add to our understanding of gentrification?

Dr. James Freeman teaches in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.  He earned his PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley in 2002.  Researching popular culture, public space and political economy in Rio de Janeiro for almost 20 years, James is the author of numerous scholarly articles on these topics. He has recently given a series of public and academic lectures on the consequences of the World Cup and the Olympics for Rio’s favelas.