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Rio’s Favelas: Informal Settlements and Social Mobility

Dr. Janice Perlman, author of The Myth of Marginality(UC Press, 1976) and Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro (Oxford University Press, 2010) and President of the Mega-Cities Project, Inc., will discuss her research in over one thousand favelas these past four decades. Dr. Perlman will reflect on the factors that reinforce social and spatial exclusion and the implication for future urban policy, practice and research.

Using findings from her recent book, her presentation will describe how the marginalization of the urban poor has deepened over the past thirty-five years through drug-related violence, the stigma of place and race, the increase in unemployment, and the inability to translate educational gains into concomitant income or occupational gains. Her research in Rio de Janeiro provides evidence that few favela residents have been successful enough to move into “good neighborhoods” or into professional jobs despite significant improvements in urban services, household goods, and schooling. Despite the persistence of social exclusion, Perlman will discuss how favela residents maintain hope their lives will improve in the future and how perceptions of progress have changed across four generations.

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