Counter Land Grabbing by the Precariat: Housing Movements and Restorative Justice in Brazil

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





Irazábal, C. “Counter Land Grabbing by the Precariat: Housing Movements and Restorative Justice in Brazil.” Urban Science, 2018, 2(2), 49, 1-18.


Social housing movements in Brazil, whose majority members are part of Brazil’s precariat or lowest-income class, are courageously pressing for true urban reform in Brazil, whose old promise has been systematically delayed and subverted, even by some of those who were put in power to realize it. By occupying vacant and underutilized land and buildings, not only are these movements confronting neoliberalism in Brazil at a time of the model’s highest level of hegemony in the country and the world, they are also unveiling the impossibility of the system to deliver sociospatial justice to the poor and are enacting an alternative. Through restorative justice practices, they go beyond critique and press for an alternate sociopolitical project that would allow millions of people in Brazil access to decent housing, and through it, to a myriad of other opportunities, including the right to the city. As shown in the experiences of those participating in housing struggles, restorative justice deserves further exploration as an alternative planning mode that can combine the strengths of advocacy planning and communicative action while reducing their drawbacks. These reflections focus on the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sen Teto (MTST) and partially feed from team ethnographic and planning studio work on several building and land occupations in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil in 2016.