“NÃO ÀS REMOÇÕES: PELO DIREITO À MORADIA”: EXAMINING THE FANTASMA(S) DE REMOÇÃO/GHOSTS OF EVICTION AND THE INSURGENCE OF NETWORKED FAVELA HOUSING ACTIVISM IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Since the turn of the 21st century, favela communities have faced new and unprecedented challenges in the light of renewed eviction threats and displacement connected to real estate development and speculation. The right to remain has become ever more complex as favela communities wrestle with and against dispossession and the political contexts which underpin its making. Yet, favela grassroots resistance has also grown in complexity and capacity. This dissertation focuses on the various motivations, processes, and spatio-political dynamics through which grassroots housing resistance have been mobilized in response to the threat of dispossession. Through participant observation, informal conversations, and interviews, I utilize an ethnographic approach to advance three inter-related arguments. First, I argue while dispossession operates as a technique of subjection for the preservation of differentiated treatment towards favela residents, it simultaneously motivates residents to exercise unique forms of agency that reflect the situated politics of their impending dispossession. In the nexus of subjection and agency, dispossession is not only opposed and negotiated, but it is also embodied and performed as a form of resistance unto itself. Second, I argue that such acts of agency have taken flight through the coming together of wider network relationships between favela residents and differently-scaled supporters to address both on-the-ground, localized struggles and to advance a broader politics of insurgency around favela housing rights in the city. Third, I argue that a broader politics of insurgent mobilization has been made possible through the enrollment of grassroots favela resistance into the digital. Digital mobilizations serve not only as the basis for physical actualizations of on-the-ground resistance, but it is also a means to foster broader imaginations of alternative ways to remain in the city. Collectively, this dissertation highlights the diverse spatiopolitical dynamics of dispossession and the ways it serves to underpin the dynamic and creative formation of subaltern, grassroots housing resistance in Rio de Janeiro.