Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil

Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil

by James Holston
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
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Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil

Insurgent citizenships have arisen in cities around the world. This book examines the insurgence of democratic citizenship in the urban peripheries of São Paulo, Brazil, its entanglement with entrenched systems of inequality, and its contradiction in violence.

James Holston argues that for two centuries Brazilians have practiced a type of citizenship all too common among nation-states—one that is universally inclusive in national membership and massively inegalitarian in distributing rights and in its legalization of social differences. But since the 1970s, he shows, residents of Brazil's urban peripheries have formulated a new citizenship that is destabilizing the old. Their mobilizations have developed not primarily through struggles of labor but through those of the city—particularly illegal residence, house building, and land conflict. Yet precisely as Brazilians democratized urban space and achieved political democracy, violence, injustice, and impunity increased dramatically. Based on comparative, ethnographic, and historical research, Insurgent Citizenship reveals why the insurgent and the entrenched remain dangerously conjoined as new kinds of citizens expand democracy even as new forms of violence and exclusion erode it.

Rather than view this paradox as evidence of democratic failure and urban chaos, Insurgent Citizenship argues that contradictory realizations of citizenship characterize all democracies—emerging and established. Focusing on processes of city- and citizen-making now prevalent globally, it develops new approaches for understanding the contemporary course of democratic citizenship in societies of vastly different cultures and histories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691142906
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/06/2009
Series: In-Formation Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 891,656
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables xi
Preface xiii


Chapter 1: Citizenship Made Strange 3
Public Standing and Everyday Citizenship 15
Particular Citizenships 18
Treating the Unequal Unequally 25
History as an Argument about the Present 33


Chapter 2: In/Divisible Nations 39
Comparative Formulations 41
French Indivisibility 44
American Restriction 52
Brazilian Inclusion 62

Chapter 3: Limiting Political Citizenship 82
The Surprisingly Broad Colonial Franchise 83
Restrictions with Independence 88
A Long Step Backward into Oligarchy 100
Urbanization and the Equalization of Rights 104

Chapter 4: Restricting Access to Landed Property 112
Property, Personality, and Civil Standing 113
Land, Labor, and Law 116
The Tangle of Colonial Land Tenure 118
National Land Reform, Slavery, and Immigrant Free Labor 123
The Land Law of 1850 131
Land Law and Market Become Accomplices of Fraud 136
Illegality, Inequality, and Instability as Norms 142

Chapter 5: Segregating the City 146
Center and Periphery 147
Evicting Workers and Managing Society 157
Autoconstructing the Peripheries 165
Social Rights for Urban Labor 186
A Differentiated Citizenship 197


Chapter 6: Legalizing the Illegal 203
The Illegal Periphery 206
A Case of Land Fraud in Jardim das Camélias 213
Histories of Dubious Origins 219
Federal Ownership Claims: Sesmarias and Indians 220
Ackel Ownership Claims: Posse and Squatter's Rights 223
The Ownership Claims of Adis and the State of São Paulo 224
The Misrule of Law 227

Chapter 7: Urban Citizens 233
New Civic Participation 235
The Mobilization of Lar Nacional 241
Reinventing the Public Sphere 247
New Foundations of Rights 253
Rights as Privilege 254
Contributor Rights 260
Text-Based Rights 264


Chapter 8: Dangerous Spaces of Citizenship 271
Everyday Incivilities 275
In/Justice 284
Gang Talk and Rights Talk 300
Insurgent Citizenships and Disjunctive Democracies 309

Notes 315
Bibliography 361
Index 375

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