Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro

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Overview

"Perlman has produced an excellent, exhaustive study of life in the 1,020 favelas [of] Rio de Janeiro.... Her measured approach is all the more compelling because as she investigates the deprivation and danger faced by favela dwellers---19% of the city's population---she also conveys a deep understanding that favelas are not merely despair-filled slums but communities." Publishers Weekly (starred review)" "Janice Perlman is one of the leading researchers on urban marginality, and Favela is an exceptional analysis of the evolution of several originally informal settlements over four decades. I highly recommend it as reading for students, urban practitioners, and policy makers." Manuel Castells, author of The Information Age Trilogy" "Janice Perlman has written a moving account of her experience over four decades studying, living, and working in three of Rio's favelas. This work will appeal to academics---it is full of fine analytical work---as well as to the reader who is concerned with understanding poverty and social justice and how millions in Brazil are trapped by their environment, lack of education, and now by crime and violence. While the location of this work is Rio, the lessons and challenges of poverty in big cities is of importance to us all, as the world moves to 2050 when 75% of the population will be in urban areas." James D. Wolfensohn, Former President, The World Bank" "A Billion People, almost half of all city dwellers in the developing world, live in squatter settlements. The most famous of these settlements are the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, which have existed for over a century and continue to outpace the rest of the city in growth." "Janice Perlman's award-winning The Myth of Marginality was the first in-depth account of life in the favelas, and it is considered one of the most important books in global urban studies in the last 40 years. Now, in Favela, Perlman carries that story forward to the present. Re-interviewing many longtime favela residents whom she had first met in 1969---as well as their children and grandchildren---Perlman offers the only long-term perspective available on the favela families as they struggle for a better life. Perlman discovers that much has changed in four decades, but while educational levels have risen, democracy has replaced dictatorship, and material conditions have improved, many residents feel more marginalized than ever. The greatest change is the explosion of drug and arms trade and the high incidence of fatal violence that has resulted. Almost one in five people report that a member of their family has been a victim of homicide. Yet the highest priority for the residents is jobs. Above all they want a chance to do decent work for decent pay. If unemployment and underemployment are not addressed, Perlman argues, all other efforts---from housing to public security to community upgrading---will fail to resolve the fundamental issues." A revealing study of the giant squatter settlements of Rio de Janeiro and of the vibrant communities of migrants who have risked everything to come to the city to provide more opportunities for their children, Favela offers a powerful look at one of the great challenges facing the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Perlman has produced an excellent, exhaustive study of life in the 1,020 favelas—squatter settlements in Rio de Janeiro—in this sequel to her 1976 book, The Myth of Marginality. Here she attempts to find and reinterview her subjects as well as their children and grandchildren. Her authoritative account based on interviews with almost 2,500 people (some of whom she has known for 40 years) blends detailed personal testimonies with ethnography and insightful analyses of the urbanization of poverty, the implications of public policy and the drug trade. Her measured approach is all the more compelling because as she investigates the deprivation and danger faced by favela dwellers—19% of the city's population—she also conveys a deep understanding that favelas are not merely despair-filled slums but communities, and many residents have remained there by choice. She is also insightful about the limitations of her own research and the conclusions that can be drawn from it, making her arguments all the more meaningful. Photos. (Feb.)
Library Journal
More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas, with the percentage of urban dwellers expected to rise over the next 50 years. Although Rio de Janeiro is known for its spectacular beaches and beautiful coastline, it has also experienced a dramatic rise in the number of informal settlements or shantytowns, known in Brazil as favelas. Perlman (president & founder, Mega-Cities Project) has been researching and studying the favelas of Rio de Janeiro for the past 40 years, conducting more than 2500 interviews with favela residents. Here she continues and expands on her first look at life in the favelas, The Myth of Marginality. Perlman follows four generations of families living in favelas, detailing how they have struggled and succeeded, shaping their communities and the greater city while striving for acceptance and respect. VERDICT Enlightening and exceptional, this book is recommended for anyone interested in the study of poverty, urban areas, human culture, and/or Brazil.—Jeremy Spencer, Univ. of California Law Lib., Davis
From the Publisher
"Perlman returned repeatedly to the famed slums of Rio de Janeiro to follow four generations of residents over 40 years. She writes with compassion, artistry, and intelligence, using stirring personal stories to illustrate larger points substantiated with statistical analysis." —Foreign Affairs

"With a scope that betrays her passion for her subjects, Perlman easily oscillates between narrative and statistical analyses, reporting on touching personal events as well as on larger issues of violence, marginality, and globalization. Perlman is as curious as she is thorough, providing exhaustive research and succeeding in supplying a cohesive and often awing account of the complexities and humanity in Rio's favelas." —The Global Journal

"A valuable and vivid study of life as it has been lived by the poor in one of Latin America's biggest cities." —Times Literary Supplement

"Janice Perlman is one of the leading researchers on urban marginality, and Favela is an exceptional analysis of the evolution of several originally informal settlement over four decades. I highly recommend it as reading for students, urban practitioners, and policy makers." —Manuel Castells, author of The Information Age

"Janice Perlman has written a moving account of her experience over four decades studying, living and working in three of Rio's favelas. This work will appeal to academics—it is full of fine analytical work, as well as to the reader who is concerned with understanding poverty and social justice and how millions in Brazil are trapped by their environment, lack of education and now by crime and violence. While the location of this work is Rio, the lessons and challenges of poverty in big cities is of importance to us all, as the world moves to 2050 when 75% of the population will be in urban areas." —James D. Wolfensohn, Former President, The World Bank

"Perlman has produced an excellent, exhaustive study of life in the 1,020 favelas- squatter settlements in Rio de Janeiro..." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Enlightening and exceptional." —Library Journal

"Perlman seeks to recover stories of people and families with whom she had contact in the late 1960s. As such, her work offers a great contribution, since she incorporates a longitudinal analysis over a long time span... Perlman's narrative is pure delicacy and poetry when she portrays slums as places where friendship, affection, and popular culture prevail." —Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195368369
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/10/2010
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Janice Perlman is President and Founder of the Mega-Cities Project. She is also the author of The Myth of Marginality: Urban Poverty and Politics in Rio de Janeiro, which won the C. Wright Mills Award.

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Table of Contents

Foreword President Fernando Henrique Cardoso Cardoso, President Fernando Henrique

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Deep Roots in Shallow Soil 24

Chapter 2 The World Goes to the City 41

Chapter 3 Catacumba: The Favela That Was 62

Chapter 4 Nova Brasilia: From Favela to Complexo 93

Chapter 5 Duque de Caxias: Favelas and Loteamentos 121

Chapter 6 Marginality from Myth to Reality 147

Chapter 7 Violence, Fear, and Loss 165

Chapter 8 Disillusion with Democracy 200

Chapter 9 The Mystery of Mobility 220

Chapter 10 Globalization and the Grassroots 246

Chapter 11 Reflections on Public Policy 264

Chapter 12 The Importance of Being Gente 316

Appendix 1 Research Methods and Challenges 341

Appendix 2 Analytical Framework for Assessing Success 355

Notes 361

References 385

Index 399

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