Beyond removal: Critically engaging in research on geographies of homelessness in the city of Rio de Janeiro

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

The ongoing reconstruction of the city of Rio de Janeiro has already involved innumerous acts of removal. In the so-called “marvelous city” during the last few years people have been evicted from occupied buildings, families have been displaced from their (favela) neighborhoods and homeless people have been forcefully detained. These acts of removal cannot be seen as a unique exception, but rather as a common practice implemented systematically throughout the city’s history. Looking beyond these acts of removal, the paper traces the conditions and bases for the legitimation of the removal of homeless people and the dominant narratives about and representations of them as non-citizens and urban others. By reflecting on research on homelessness in this context, the possibilities of and obstacles to critically engaged research are discussed in order to make sense of the logic of removal. Thus, acknowledging knowledge from homeless people proves to be essential for research in order to challenge urban power relations that normalize these practices of removal.

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