CUBES, in partnership with academic institutions in Brazil, Tanzania and the Netherlands are organizing the Online International Seminar Titled Feminising Urban Struggle: bodies, territories and politics in women’s production and reproduction of peripheral spaces.

A three-day online international seminar will take place between 6 and 8 November of 2023. It will bring together over one hundred scholars and three keynote speakers to debate critical feminist urban research and explore new epistemologies at the intersection of gender, women’s urban struggles, and the production of peripheral territories. See draft program here, still subject to change.

The November seminar event initiates a larger Urban Studies Foundation-funded Seminar Series exploring the urban struggles of marginalised women in transforming their peripheral territories in different contexts of the Global South, particularly, Southern Africa and Latin America.

Check out the selected videos:

Black feminist epistemology of noise: Epistemic production from peripheral electronic music

Author: Steffane Santos
Institutional affiliation: Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

In Brazil, an exponent of the hip-hop movement is growing out of peripheral electronic music. Rhythms like grime and drill are taking over the streets and the daily lives of young black people on the periphery. The movement, the beat, the lyrics wrapped up in a mixture of expressions of thought, the many beats that present a lot of noise – the construction of a sound that gives vent to narrating oneself, to becoming the subject of one’s own discourse, as Lélia Gonzalez put it. Black cis women, transsexuals and transvestites are epistemological agents in various spaces, including at the heart of musicality.

Where the meaning of living is enunciated, named, sounded and mastered. In this sense, this work focuses on examining how artists such as Sé da Rua, Iza Sabino, N.I.N.A, Natalhão, Irmãs de Pau, SODOMITA, among others, produce knowledge through their artistic work in music, from the composition of lyrics and sound production. As a black, cis, bisexual, peripheral woman who is part of hip-hop culture, I draw on my experience as a listener and as a person living life surrounded by the black feminist epistemology of noise. The episteme produced in making and narrating oneself, in the first person, is a constitutive facet of the composition of the black feminist epistemology of noise, demarcating the place of subject of our bodies marked by oppression but also by faces of resistance, knowledge, ancestry and daily experience.

City wit: the experience of female graffiti artists on the Rio de Janeiro streets

Author: Nicolly Barbosa
Institutional affiliation: Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF)

The city is a place of dispute. Erasures, constructions, bodies and narratives. This work aims to shed light on the female bodies that paint urban graphic interventions, in the field of legality and illegality. However, it is in the unauthorized practices that these female subjects have to create tricks and forms of self-protection for their physical integrity, by the development of different tactics, sharing the historian Michel de Certeau concept. It was investigated how these bodies, in order to occupy their spaces, manage the logic of the urban state marked by the unsafe condition for them.

These actions full of wit, taking advantage of the time gaps in the urban space, were identified through the ethnographic method based on interviews with three interlocutors. They are residents of the city of Rio de Janeiro suburbs and have worked on various fronts related to the field of arts, working for at least 5 years in the graffiti area. Upon commencing and developing such investigative field, sometimes focused on the male experience, from a gender perspective, we can observe collective creations, agility in the lyrics elaboration and characters, and the identification of legislative gaps. These remarks are essential for the female bodies to stand their ground in the field of interventions marked, among other characteristics, by the ephemerality competing and tensioning the zone.

Keywords: Urban interventions, tactics, self-protection.

Duque de Caxias Municipal Women’s Rights Forum: for women’s lives, the struggle on the city

Authors: Cleonice Puggian and Ivanete Conceição da Silva
Institutional affiliation: 1 Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Faculdade de Educação da Baixada Fluminense (FEBF), Programa de Pós-graduação em Educação, Cultura e Comunicação (PPGECC), Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), PROCIENTISTA UERJ, Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado (FAPERJ);
2. Especialista em Políticas Públicas de Enfrentamento a Violência Contra Mulher (PUC/RJ), Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), Secretaria de Estado de Educação do Rio de Janeiro (SEEDUC-RJ), Bolsista TCT FAPERJ

The women’s movement in the state of Rio de Janeiro has the mark of diversity and encounters in the streets, in the marches for “8 DE MARÇO”, for “ELE Não”, other agendas defending the rights of the whole society, also in everyday struggles which are embraced from each segment and territory. However, the metropolitan region of this state remains invisible to the eyes and projects of public authorities, such as Baixada Fluminense, within it the city of Duque de Caxias, which ranks third in population, with more than 50% of women population. Duque de Caxias also occupies the third place in the ranking of violence against women, in all forms of violence, presented by the Maria da Penha Law, nº 11.340/06.

Its population, black and peripheral, lives on the margins of public policies. However, women activists, heirs of the Quilombos of Hidra do Iguaçu and the women’s movement, do not give up, nor do they lower their heads, they reinvent themselves and resist. The resistance of women in this place goes through many initiatives that have been taking place for a long time, our excerpt presents the initiatives of institutions and movements organized by women, or not only by them, but which have work specifically aimed at women or demand the implementation of the various absent or insufficient public policies, such as: security, food, education, health, work, housing, culture, or in other words, women’s rights to guarantee a dignified life, with quality, autonomy and independence.

We found the articulation of these demands, in the space known as the Municipal Forum of Women’s Rights of Duque de Caxias, which has existed in the city for twenty years, with an important political contribution to the struggle and organization of women for public policy and consequently placing itself in a pedagogical way, in the political formation of these collectives, as a Human Rights agenda.

Gender experiences in the city through the lens of urban art

Authors: Carolina Pinho and Jade Jares
Institutional affiliation: Laboratório da Cidade

This article, derived from the “Women and Walls” research conducted in May 2021, in partnership with and at the invitation of the architect and urbanist Carolina de Pinho from Belo Horizonte, an enthusiastic researcher on the subject, along with the coordinator of the “City for Women” collective, Jade Jares from Belém do Pará, discusses the experiences and occupation of women in urban space, with a focus on the work of female graffiti artists and muralists. The online research aimed to map the experience of these female bodies in Brazilian cities and the impact and challenges of appropriating public spaces predominantly designed and planned by and for men.

The development involves a theoretical analysis of gender, the right to the city, and urban art, and how the construction of our society directly and consequently impacts these three areas. The focus of this reflection is to critique the patriarchal logic present in the conception of our cities and in the formulation of public policies for urban development, as well as in the artistic sphere, whose consequences have a negative impact on the production and dissemination of female art. Data was collected regarding race, age, modes of mobility used, urban and artistic barriers, location, duration of engagement in urban art, among others.

In addition to mapping urban obstacles, the project also sought accounts of the artists’ experiences in their daily lives as they circulate through public spaces to execute their work. This research aims to continue the investigation of the issue by supplementing searches for gender-based urban solutions in Brazil and around the world, as well as the resistance movements and unity among female urban artists that have been occurring in the country.

Mapping violence against women: an experience with high school youth in the city of Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro

Authors: Cleonice Puggian; Ivanete Conceição da Silva; Carla Tatiana Chagas de Oliveira; Monique Dias de Freitas Debortoli Pereira; Daniel Souza Monteiro de Jesus; Cyntia Matos Pereira Irineu
Institutional affiliation: 1 Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Faculdade de Educação da Baixada Fluminense (FEBF), Programa de Pós-graduação em Educação, Cultura e Comunicação (PPGECC), Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), PROCIENTISTA UERJ, Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado (FAPERJ); 2 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), Secretaria de Estado de Educação do Rio de Janeiro (SEEDUC-RJ), Bolsista TCT FAPERJ; 3 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), Secretaria de Estado de Educação do Rio de Janeiro (SEEDUC-RJ), Bolsista TCT FAPERJ; 4 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), Secretaria de Estado de Educação do Rio de Janeiro (SEEDUC-RJ), Bolsista TCT FAPERJ; 5 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq), Secretaria de Estado de Educação do Rio de Janeiro (SEEDUC-RJ), Bolsista TCT FAPERJ; 6 Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Faculdade de Educação da Baixada Fluminense (FEBF), Programa de Pós-graduação em Educação, Cultura e Comunicação (PPGECC), Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação, Natureza e Sociedade (LabPENSo/CNPq);

In this communication we will present a digital social cartography conducted with high school students, between 14 and 18 years old, from four public teacher training schools in Duque de Caxias, in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. It was conducted as part of the project “Science and Technologies for Women’s Rights”, financed by FAPERJ through the Call for Proposals no. 09/2021 – Girls and Women in Exact and Earth Sciences, Engineering and Computing Program – 2021. This project is justified because Duque de Caxias is among the three most violent municipalities for women in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is also justified because the Municipal Plan of Public Policies for Women provides for mappings that assist in the planning and development of a “feminine city”.

Data collection took place in schools during the first semester of 2022 and again in March 2023. Google Earth software was used so that students could mark points, lines and polygons that indicated spaces where they felt unsafe and subject to gender violence. During the research, a file was collectively created in .kmz format, with 98 points. The use of the Google Earth platform also aligned with the objectives of the main research, which aimed to familiarize young women with technological resources, using them as a tool to combat violence. During the preparation of the map, students narrated episodes of harassment and fear, which prevented them from circulating and enjoying the city’s spaces.

The period of returning home, in the late afternoon, after classes, emerged as the most vulnerable moment of their daily lives. Students reported cases of harassment at the school entrance, at the bus stop, inside it and on the street that took them home. According to students, the mandatory use of uniforms, with skirts and long socks, increased cases of street harassment. The sexual fetish involving such uniforms has already been documented in academic works and problematized by the normalists themselves. Conclusions indicate that social cartography and the production of the map, which will be made available online and presented to the Municipal Forum for Women’s Rights, supported the emergence of a space for dialogue about urban space, which can be used to guide public policies that ensure all citizens the right to the city.

PLANO POPULAR DAS VARGENS: emancipatory action on urban space based on care

Author: Luciana Amorim
Institutional affiliation: Programa de Pós-graduação em Urbanismo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (PROURB/UFRJ)

The present study seeks to highlight an approach to ecofeminism and the ethics of care in urban struggles. It brings, as a reference case, the development of an urban plan, prepared by the local population, the ‘Popular Plan of Vargens’, proposed in November 2017, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in parallel and in opposition to municipal legislation, the ‘PEU das Vargens’ or ‘PLC n. 140/2015’. The ‘Plano Popular das Vargens’ stands out as an action on urban space, representing the fruit of articulation between different groups in the neighborhood of Vargem Grande, located in the city of Rio de Janeiro, with the protagonism of women.

This is a feminist mobilization that produces insurgent planning in an environmentally sensitive territory that is going through a long process of pressure from the real estate market, instrumentalized by the State’s actions, with changes in urban parameters, enabling dense urban occupation focused on the market.

As a counterpoint, the ‘Plano Popular das Vargens’ takes care of local demands linked to vulnerable groups, focused on the right to housing and the maintenance of practices linked to agroecology; in addition to demanding the protection of local biodiversity, existing in Campos de Sernambetiba and Pedra Branca State Park.

It is understood that this struggle is part of the context in which women appear on the front line and in greater numbers in struggles for the environment, a reality that reflects the feminization of poverty in the current stage of capitalism.

As a counter-proposal, the ‘Plano Popular das Vargens’ develops urban planning focused on values linked to the ecofeminist current of thought based on the Ethics of Care. It turns out that the plan differs from the hegemonic logic focused on real estate production, present in institutional urban planning, based on a practice of care in which the establishment of a relationship of responsibility with the environment is privileged, defending the perpetuation of life while proposing an alternative for urban transformation.

Reproductive injustice: peripheral bodies in action in the production of situaded knowledge

Authors: Elaine Reis Brandão and Ana Carolina Lessa Dantas
Institutional affiliation: Instituto de Estudos em Saúde Coletiva da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ); Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Brasília (UnB)

Our work addresses the social and digital mobilization of urban women, mothers, residents on the outskirts of large cities in Brazil and users of the Sistema Único de Saúde [Unified Health System]. These are women who seek to regain their health and their right to assistance in the public network by removing the Essure® permanent sterilization device, after many side effects and health damages caused by it. For some years now, we have been following the dramatic process of chronic illness that they went through due to the implementation of the biomedical device in public reference hospitals in the main capitals of the country. As a result, groups of women who call themselves “Essure victims” organized politically – initially, through social networks and, subsequently, in public events in their cities – to produce “evidence” that proves the relationship between the suffering experienced and the device itself.

In this process, women have strained the epistemic relationships established by State institutions and health professionals, contesting medical knowledge that doubts the symptoms experienced or that neglects care for affected patients, such as surgeries to remove the device. In our ethnographic research in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, we demonstrated how such political engagement in search of reparation and social justice has constituted a path of feminist learning vis-à-vis the State and civil society, as well as authorities and public institutions with whom they relate, be they parliamentarians, health professionals, legal operators, human rights defenders, media professionals, among others. Spatial and institutional displacements around the city for public demonstrations, hearings and meetings also mean symbolic displacements between different arenas of power and knowledge, enriching the trajectory of these feminist leaders, towards an idea of ​​reproductive and social justice for all peripheral, poor, black, with little education and difficulties in entering the job market women.

We emphasize that practices of care and mutual solidarity between them shape the spaces that women occupy collectively, politicizing the reproduction of the black and peripheral female body in the public sphere. A mutual aid network has emerged between them, such as the organization of professionalization courses/workshops for reintegration into the job market, in Brasília. We argue that the paths undertaken by women are not – or, at least, should not be – a one-way street. If women learn, in their journeys through public institutions, to strengthen their mobilization strategies, they also offer these institutions a privileged partial perspective, a form of localized knowledge, about what the Essure® device is and how the problems that it caused can be better addressed by public policies, health services and biomedical sciences. It’s time for these institutions to learn to listen to them.

Right to the city through communitarian practices

Authors: Geisa Bugs; Phamela Alves; Kátia F. de Oliveira; Laís Leão; Juliana Marques; Danielle Paula Martins
Institutional affiliation: Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná (PUCPR) e Universidade Feevale

The contemporary city, vocationally a place of coexistence and exchange between those who are different but also filled with ambivalences, presents itself as an unequal, violent and hostile territory for a large part of its population. Inequality especially affects women who, due to social, political and economic constructions, face great difficulties in accessing urban opportunities in an equal and safe way. The debate concerning women’s right to the city has recently reached relevance, increasing interest in empirical cases that could support urban policies and interventions connected to everyday life. It involves not only access to a series of public services, but also the right to participate and contribute to the debate through their actions and experiences.

Networks of women constituted from communitarian solidarity present excellent channels of care and collective health, respect for the environment and social innovation. Therefore, attention to communitarian practices can provide specific knowledge about the experiences and needs/difficulties experienced by women in the urban environment, fostering the collective construction of new logics concerning the right to the city. Under this premise, the project entitled ‘Women and the Right to the City: Strengthening and Dissemination of Everyday Communitarian Practices’ investigates the supportive relationships, knowledge and practices that support women’s networks in Vila Torres (Curitiba/PR) and Comunidade Favorita (Araucária/ PR) – poor villages/urban favelas.

The project’s objective is that, by holding workshops to share, exchange and produce knowledge about local realities and practices, it will be possible to increase visibility, equip and support these local and communitarian networks. Vila Torres has around nine thousand inhabitants and is located at the entrance to Curitiba, on the banks of the Belém River – a territory subject to flooding, where the majority of the population lives from collecting, sorting and selling recyclable waste. Comunidade Favorita is located in the Capela Velha neighborhood, northwest of the municipality of Araucária, metropolitan region of Curitiba, close to the Passaúna River reservoir. According to data from the social organization TETO, there are approximately 400 households, where more than 62% of adults do not have a fixed monthly income or, if so, it is below the minimum national wage. The aim of this report is to document the phase of approach and recognition of women from both communities, and to present previous results from theoretical research, conceptual and methodological foundation.

The methodology, of qualitative nature, involves participatory research, social cartography and conversation circles on experimental//life stories, among others. The project includes, in an inseparable manner, research and extension activities, as well as contact with a multidisciplinary team.

“The path is known by walking…” Cultural Palettes as an instrument for affirming the right to the city

Author: Lorena Stephanie Santos Cerqueira
Institutional affiliation: PPGAU/UFBA, ODARA – Instituto da Mulher Negra

Paletar’ is a verb known by the people of Salvador who walk on foot in their city journeys. This work emerges from a perspective of experiences with the city based on routes built on foot. These perspectives have been with me since my early childhood in the 1990s in the Rio Sena neighborhood, Subúrbio Ferroviário of Salvador. The idea of walking out of necessity has been replaced by the opportunity for contemplation. Thinking about this term in the distinctive Bahian manner and aiming to share experiences and sensations, the Preta Paleteira initiative was born in November 2021.

The right to housing in Maceió and the struggle of female social movement leaders

Authors: Paula Regina Vieira Zacarias; Vivianny Kelly Galvão; Débora de Barros Cavalcanti Fonseca
Institutional affiliation: Centro Universitário de Maceió, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Sociedade, Tecnologias e Políticas Públicas, Observatório de Democracia e Interdisciplinaridade; Centro Universitário de Maceió, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Sociedade, Tecnologias e Políticas Públicas, Observatório de Democracia e Interdisciplinaridade; Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Dinâmicas do Espaço Habitado, Núcleo de Estudos do Estatuto da Cidade

Brazilian cities are historically marked by social, economic, racial and gender inequalities, while at the same time they are the scene of resistance and disputes over the practices and political narratives of urban social movements. These movements have specific dynamics in relation to others, but they also face cycles of repression, confrontations and violations, as well as conquests, advances and guarantees of rights. Among these, the housing movements demand access to the right to housing as a way of overcoming the absence or inefficiency of the housing policy implemented in Brazil and the vulnerabilities experienced by residents of precarious settlements, low-income housing estates and peripheral neighborhoods.

The role of women in organization, management and coordination is one of the characteristics of housing movements. However, this protagonism also suggests that women face housing inequalities differently, as they are usually responsible for reproductive work and caring for the home and family. The aim of this research was to investigate the work of social movements for the right to housing in Maceió, state of Alagoas, based on the experiences of their female leaders. The descriptive-analytical case study used data collected from semi-structured interviews with the leaders of four movements: Movimento de Luta nos Bairros, Vilas e Favelas (MLB), Movimento Nacional de Luta pela Moradia (MNLM), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MTST) and União Nacional por Moradia Popular (UNMP).

The data was processed using the Content Analysis method. In conclusion, it was possible to characterize the local trajectory of the housing movements, their form of organization, achievements and relationship with public entities, as well as to identify the perception of female leaders about the guarantees or violations of access to the right to adequate housing by women in conditions of greater vulnerability. The profile of the female leaders interviewed (black and peripheral women) points to a similar life path, given that the precarious housing conditions they have experienced have led them to take a leading role in the movements they are part of. Furthermore, the perceptions gathered can serve as an important tool for formulating more inclusive public housing policies aimed at tackling the violations identified and their impact on the living conditions of women in Maceió.

Vila Nova Esperança: the margins and the construction of rooting

Author: Aline Silva
Institutional affiliation: Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of São Paulo – FAUUSP

Vila Nova Esperança (VNE) is a territory where one can have abundant contact with nature when compared to most of the urban territory in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region, especially in terms of spatial margins. This is where topics delineating contexts of oppression are addressed, which place a significant portion of the Brazilian population in a situation of vulnerability linked to housing, race, and class, associated with necropolitics. The proximity to green areas is one of the reasons that residents point to as why they like living there, but it is also used by the public authorities as a justification for eviction. This study analyzes the main dynamics that actually impact the environment, while focusing on the constructions of key subjects for resistance in the territory.

To demonstrate coexistence with the surroundings with minimal degradation, actions have been implemented to make the territory ‘more sustainable,’ led by the leader of the Residents’ Association, Lia Esperança. For this, it was necessary to question the motivations behind eviction orders. The justification that the population was degrading the environment involved constructions on peripheral territories and poor populations. Thus, self-definition – the construction of one’s own image and not an acceptance of the imposed image (Colins, 2016, cited in³) – in the construction of a political identity was of paramount importance and resulted in the structuring of spaces, some of which are not part of the common ‘hall’ of urban facilities promoted by the public authorities.

However, it was necessary for self-definitions to reach the spheres of power. Lia and the Residents’ Association do this through the work they carry out and by opening up to visitors and the media, thereby changing the perception of the neighborhood and its residents through self-assessment. The new way in which they see themselves is reflected to others, emphasizing the content of self-definitions so that external images are replaced by self-defined ones. Examples are news reports about the neighborhood, in which VNE is associated with sustainability and environmental care, quite different from the public authorities’ discourse as a justification for eviction.

Identity, being also constituted by self-definition, is a personal process that occurs collectively and mainly in everyday spaces for the active subjects in VNE. These spaces, especially the community garden, are where exchanges between identities can take place and where new logics can emerge. This process does not exist independently of space: while it is constructed by it, it also constructs it by providing a stage for new encounters and experiences.

The understanding of the reasons for the central role of the community garden could be better comprehended through intersectionality as a tool for spatial analysis. The oppressions that affect black women and marginalized black bodies lead to constructs in which self-definition appears as an alternative to this. In this way, space, as a product of social relationships, is then influenced by the identities of the subjects and, in the case of VNE, primarily by Lia Esperança.