Chasing the Real: the Gentrification of Rio de Janeiro's Favelas

Nicola Tadini

Studenteropgave: Speciale


With point of departure in the understanding of place as relational and of gentrification as an inherently political process, this thesis adopts ethnographic methods to investigate the gentrification of the favela of Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro. The phenomenon is approached at two different but interrelated levels of analysis. The first level investigates the ways in which newcomers construct the favela as place. The favela emerges as 'authentic', constructed in opposition to the homogeneity that is perceived to dominate Rio's richer neighbourhoods and the Western capitals many newcomers come from. Two main representations come forth: the favela as a site of struggle and the favela as creative hub. The gentrification of the favela, particularly when at the hands of young, creative foreigners, assumes a colonial aura, as Vidigal emerges as a background scenery for the reproduction of the newcomers' middle-class lives, more than as a place of genuine interaction. This aspect outlines also the peculiarity of the global flow of gentrifers that characterises favela gentrification. The second level of analysis investigates how these representations and the newcomers' practices affect social relations within the favela, with particular focus on housing, the party scene and everyday life interaction. Primarily based on interviews with both newcomers and old-timers, this thesis shows how gentrification has a multi-fold impact on the social relations in the favela. In particular, gentrification forces new power relations into Vidigal, taking with it conflicts previously unknown inside the favela and causing both physical and social displacement. As a result of the new power dynamics, the numeric majority of Vidigal becomes a minority in regard to its power to define the place favela. The future of the favela and of its inhabitants appears to be at risk, as gentrification is fostered by public and private investments in view of the mega-events Rio is to host in the coming years, and by the process of pacification.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato10 aug. 2013


  • favela
  • vidigal
  • social relations
  • power relations
  • space and place
  • place-making
  • authenticity
  • gentrification
  • rio de janeiro