New Urban Practices and Configurations of Public Space in Sao Paulo

Teresa Caldeira
City and Regional Planning
UC Berkeley

A diverse range of public practices are transforming the city of São Paulo and its public spaces. They articulate anew the profound social inequalities that have always marked the city. Over the last decade, the grantee has undertaken ethnographic research to map these practices, including graffiti, pixação (tagging), rap, skateboarding, parkour, and motorcycling. She now proposes summarizing these findings in a book about the character of the public spaces and interactions that they create. The project will show that these practices, articulated as both artistic production and urban performance, not only give the subaltern new visibility but also express new forms of political action that are contradictory: They affirm rights to the city while fracturing the public with aggressiveness and transgression; they expose discrimination but refuse integration. Thus, they require new conceptualizations of democratic public space and of the role of citizens in producing the city, which the book will develop.