From Brazil

Being optimistic in dark times

It is not that my book sees total progress in Brazil, but it is fairly optimistic when it comes to the progress and diversification of the country’s media environment in the last decades.

I interviewed two dozens of media producers, all based across that immense territory: from the Amazonian area to the very hot northeast; from the populous southeast to the Agro-industrial centre. I also analysed content produced from a myriad of small websites during three years. From the transition of the ill-fated Rousseff’s government to the disastrous impeachment and the ascension of Michel Temer to power.

My first goal (then a PhD research) was to capture the changing political position of the populations living in the country’s peripheries (favelas, suburbs, and the vast countryside) after nearly two decades of a perceived improvement in their quality of life: they now had access to credit, could buy homes and furniture, but to what extent could they also communicate as the rest of society?

My hypothesis was that such new socioeconomic conditions would be enough to bring forward a stream of political contention that was at best ignored by the commercial media, at worst ignored because the periphery never really mattered to the mainstream society.

What I found after four years into my research was that, in the periphery, media producers could voice in their outlets some kind of truth that many people have underestimated. Primarily blogs, social media, they started to come up in the media and as “the media”, opening a path to dialogue with mainstream actors, but also among themselves, between regions and communities. In other words, their pattern of communication has changed.

Not only that, they showed that they could recognise the democratic infrastructure of the country: its institutions, the media, and demonstrated confidence in freedom of expression to speak truth to power. I called this network of outlets and especially their maturity and responsibility toward democracy, the “peripheral media.”

All was well in this narrative until dramatic changes in the political scenario. Stormy clouds brought a successful case for Rousseff’s impeachment, serial accusations posed to the Vice-President in charge, and the worst corruption scandals in history were in the global media. The public opinion saw new facts conducting then reliable politicians straight into jail. The rising appeal of right-wing roadshow of justice did not necessarily unmake a panorama of media development that was good.

On the one hand, one cannot call “development” a string of fake news that went down as “news” in the last months. On the other, there is a big picture that informs us of the inclusion of interlocutors, tastes, and voices that has no parallel in the country’s history. What I am saying is that social change should, wishfully, come along with peace and social cohesion, but sometimes it doesn’t. .

I finished off my research before the rise of Jair Bolsonaro, whereas I worked in a country that was already divided. Back then, he was another failed politician with bizarre ideas broadcasted during the impeachment, but which one would never see implemented in normal conditions. Today, he is poised to conquer mainstream society and the periphery with controversial ideas, but largely conservatism in its return. It might not be the more progressive layer of the periphery I researched that voted for him, but there are surely representatives of the favelas, suburbs and the countryside that I researched, and which definitely supported him to some extent.

Even on top of such political choice, we should, still, face their ability of inclusion and decision as a positive outcome of recent Brazil.

How poverty affects online personalities on social media

In August 2018, I published an article on First Monday about the advent of online self-representations in the context of impoverished communities.

I believe this is one of the most underresearched aspects of social media. The extent to which poverty and inequality could mirror different kinds of self-representation, either by selfies and short text posts on the Internet.

I took on the example of Brazil’s favelas. First because of the past of these communities in the media. They are since a long time de-humanised, de-personalised, and stereotyped; either in telenovelas, films, and in popular discourse. Based on this background, I could check whether the Internet could allow fresh images to flourish and influence the mainstream society.

I first approached the possibilities of new online ‘subjectivities’ from favelas a few years ago for the Discovery Society. Now, I deepen in how these subjectivities can fructify. I discuss the opportunities surrounding the online favelado in a more practical sense. What can they make it of themselves by being online? Below I clarify some of the conceptual tools I used in this research.

What is personality?

I simplified the understanding of such deep psychologic notion by limiting my interest in a generic form of media expressions on the Internet as models for personality.

Despite so many definitions, my aim was to accept the common sense of organised forms of “accounts”, “patterns of feelings.” In my perception, textual references or imagery could embed many of the attributes of personality:

Personality is a system of parts that is organized, develops, and is expressed in a person’s actions.

Personality is about many things: perception and attention, cognition and memory, neurons and brain circuitry…We try to understand the individual human being as a complex whole…[and] to construct a scientifically credible account of human individuality (McAdams, 2006, p. 2).

Personality is the organized, developing system within the individual that represents the collective action of that individual’s major psychological subsystems (Mayer, 2007, p. 14).

Personality refers to those characteristics of the person that account for consistent patterns of feelings, thinking, and behaving (Pervin, Cervone & John, 2005, p. 6)

Social media and ‘personality’

I placed the existence of online personality in contrast with the persistence of past stigmas related to these communities. So I oppose an external inheritance (representation) to a notion of ‘personality’ that stemming from within; from the sharing of everyday experiences on Facebook or Twitter. To what extent could this internal process of self-representing is enough to unmake a background of inherited stereotypes?

I qualified personality also based on social media interactions. It is true that what we call ‘IT  skills’ involve a range of socially-approved behaviours and goals that point to a rather limited form of consensus; But it is possible to look, for instance, at the occurrence of likes as exercises of personality without believing that those who don’t like it on social media wouldn’t have done it if they could.

Another conceptual difficulty of studying poverty within social technology is to go against these platforms’ design. Its commercialism is embedded in tastes and possibilities of its participants. However, even if the use of filters and geotagging are ways to “show off,” which is not in the best interests of the poorest, it could still reveal if poverty is likeable or accepted.

In the end, I targeted the display of personality directly from the content of users’ publications. On the one hand, this approach has not allowed me to extrapolate to the whole issue of social media usage by favela-based users. On the other, it was not possible to assume that every social user was living de facto in a favela, I had to be limit my use to references to the geographical favela. Let’s see some results.

Representing and self-representing

This repeated display of personality could be captured through practices of representing or self-representing. 

Representing on a media perspective exists in the well-watched telenovelas, for example, which has mirrored the life of millions as soft, sympathetic and suburban-like in Avenida Brasil. Internationally, favelas could be stages for drug dealing and violent police Films such as in films such as City of God or Elite Troop. Those are representations.

Then, self-representing appeared as the opposite of these generalist portraits. If not entirely contradicting this past of injustice and violence seen in the favelas, self-representing constantly pointed to the unmaking of the hegemonic face of poverty.  In this sense, I tried to build
not only how poverty defines online personality, but how it leads to other roles and responsibilities assumed by such producers.

Self-representing, whether by expressions, images, and roles described in this content, led me into three main roles that emerge as the contemporary possibilities of the favelado once he or she assumes the control of its authorship. In my First Monday article, I described these roles in its entirety. Below I give you a brief description:

Favela media producers as leaders

Personality in favelas is historically tied to past models of community leadership. While calling themselves journalists, bloggers, and content producers, media producers from favelas distance themselves from the image of these leaders. In other words, there was no evidence that the former individuals have had any influence over interviewed producers through any platform.

In reality, much of what producers have mentioned is about being themselves with their personal habits and tastes. This ‘individuality’ comes up as opposed to speaking on the citizens’ behalf. Fewer producers have said to feel proud of the individuals that used to speak on behalf of the favela, but in a memorialising way.

Favela media producers as journalists

I did not sight that what I conceptualised as ‘self-representation’ is still an advanced affordance that might not be available for all the citizens, as it was for the interviewees. However, those which have voiced it out had positioned themselves as if belonging to a fusion of journalist and amateur content producer.

In fact, media studies literature has said much on the re-invention of alternative media producers as journalists, as well as on how fluid are the barriers of the profession. But as a self-representation, being a journalist has meant a range of things, from informing (in partnership with the mainstream media or not) to finding what to do, organising events, claiming importance. Poverty as a topic of their practice has been directly associated with each producers’ publication.

Favela media producers as culture promoters

Some content has indeed displayed personality in a more conventional way. By doing what they call ‘showing off’, favela media producers could not escape from posting pictures of their stay in whatever hotel rooms they were in (some of whom do it for the first time), or underlining their consumerism habits.

By doing so, they try to bridge their personality with the average middle-class person personality. The difference is that they also open space for burst pipes leaking water, or for the shootings in their communities. There is much of sharing of the Sunday’s barbecue or the pagode in the middle of the streets as it has of bodies lying on the pavement.

Conclusion: New forms of personalising the periphery

The approximation of poverty from social media platforms happens to the extent that these platforms allow these interspersions between the soft and hard aspect of life; whether the favela personality is based on rap, hip-hop, funk, and on transgender singers or personality as a range of constraints faced on first hand (although it is evident that this is persistently their ‘real’ life.)

Thanks to social media, I argue, personality exists in individuals’ well-known hardship, but as different forms of authorship spread through the Internet, the narrative of pleasure and power mingles one of oppression and fear, being the latter increasingly losing ground to the former.

This phenomenon I called the “personalisation of the periphery” which praises individualism and merit but also allows leadership, journalism, and culture amid an increasingly mediatised battle against urban chaos and violence.

In sum, the online favela tends to reduce the cult of the charismatic community leader. This image might still echo on the mass media, but it says more about the mainstream media inability to truly engage with dwellers’ emerging personalities than it denies the existence of more nuances of the process (the new soap operas do not necessarily address these individuals, as seen in other studies.)

In this way, even under several limitations of social media as a representational tool of poverty, this contrast between soft and hard aspects of the discourse has the fluid personality from these communities as the main phenomenon, which deserves a further exploration.

In times of political crisis, could this favela personality change towards a more politicised self? Could it forge a political voice amid the current right-wing turmoil? Could it stop the capture by consumerist forces? All these questions demand scholars’ engagement in methods and scope.

Reassessing the life of Chica da Silva: A tale about Brazil

There is no doubt that Brazil’s history remains under-researched and under-theorised. Especially with regards to the country’s extensive colonial legacy, different periods can be open to negotiation and interpretation, but most of which are still stuck in a range of stereotypes that say little about the complexities of its characters.

The biography of the 18th-century slave, Chica da Silva (1732-1796) is one of these attempts to re-interpreting history in all its caveats. Silva lived in the village of Tejuco, in the modern city of Diamantina, a city in the north of the Minas Gerais state. She has become notorious and iconic to contemporary audiences due to programmes and films featuring her life.

Owned as a slave in a big household, she managed to be sold to the Portuguese diamond merchant João Fernandes de Oliveira, a representative of the Portuguese Crown. Despite the blur that surrounds her life after marriage, the few accounts amount to an extravagant lifestyle. Owner of dozens of slaves herself, she lived in a lavish house, entertained herself with exotic goods and lots of guests.

Besides the colourful details of her biography, this is at the same time a tale of class mobility that has attracted so much attention. How much of it was true? What does this tell us about colonialism, race, and mobility in Brazil? It was indeed an extraordinary life,  even for modern Brazil, with such a meteoric rise even to modern day standards. Her fairy tale is also about challenging the order, but also focuses on her personality as a distinctive trait that would allow her to move forward.

In sum, her grace and power would carry an antidote against a racist and obscure society. Examples abound in her lifetime: if the Church does not allow your presence inside, let’s build a new one; if she could not travel to the sea, she made them build a lake. IHer myth is as sociological as it is celebrity-driven. To the left, she was an icon of resistance that would inspire the black movements; to the right, she showed how racial relations in Brazil were not too harsh.

A documented reassessment was made possible thanks to “Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteen Century” (Cambridge University Press), a book by Junia Pereira Furtado. The book’s main merit stems from Furtado valuable effort to shed light on Silva’s physical existence in the 18th century, still doubted by some, as well as to confirms further details of her life. Furtado is successful in placing Silva’s in a wider context, moving her into a less spectacular place.

Silva’s life, according to the book, was not an average one. This is for sure. After all, any black individual breaking the 18th-century social contract, based on slavery and inescapable use of African individuals as economic commodities, could not have lived a normal life; leave alone a rise-up to own and ostentate a luxury lifestyle.

On the other hand, in her will to balance, Furtado also recognises the impossibility to tell more about Silva, except that once married to a white Portuguese man, she behaved as many other women in her condition. The evidence failed to show anything more than an uninteresting life after her establishment in society.  No surprises or breaks from the order what one would see in a woman of her wealth, whether of black or white skin.

What strikes me after reading Furtado’s enlightening account is the transformation of this character over time. Silva’s story is one of a slave’s luck, from the senzala into the heart of the Catholic, colonial Portuguese society. Instead, the conventional saying tells us that all glories from her marriage to a white, rich man stem from her sexuality and outstanding beauty. This attractive picture is the way in which she has appeared over centuries (since the 19th century at least).

The documents also tell us about the conservative turn of Chica da Silva, different from the confrontational stances that soap opera authors have told. Once her husband returns to Portugal, her option, for instance, was to hide in religious “sisterhoods”, sustained by members of the elite. The book also informs us about the fate of her sons, some of whom once moving to Portugal, had deliberately erased her presence from their backgrounds.

In sum, Chica da Silva’s trajectory is not only one of a rise-and-shine at expense of struggle against the gold-fed establishment of Minas Gerais, an important piece of Brazil of the time. Her trajectory is one of confirmation of the mechanisms of inequality and the ephemeron fractures that allow a few to emerge from time to time. As Furtado encapsulates it, it is about the average black lady “Chica”, an archetype so common in countryside Brazil, and one of a sexual volcano, white man temptation “Xica”, graphed in a marketable x.

Confronting the homogenised Xica (like in Caca Diegues’ eponymous movie or in the famous soap opera of the extinct Manchete TV), Junia Furtado’s book dismantles this portrait, but not necessarily puts up another one. We simply don’t know more about it. After many trips paid to archives in Brazil and Portugal, what she achieves is to fit an otherwise disruptive character into Brazil’s course of history. Maybe because these documents are so revelatory of Silva’s ordinariness, to the extent of the deceptive, that this book is not more popular than it deserved.

Back to the starting argument, there are signs that the recklessness with history is changing. The new Joaquim movie released in 2017, directed by Marcelo Gomes, gives a new direction to the image of the martyrised hero. Who knows this film could be the beginning of a critical re-appraisal of the country’s heroes, at least as the media see it.

As Furtado’s study digs deep into Chica da Silva’s contradictions, it is possible to assert that Brazilians have cared very little about history. If they did not do so, they could search for new meanings and, in the meantime, find opportunities to reflect on past misconceptions that could offer new teachings for the present’s faults.

An image, a favela, and my research

I won the City University’s Images of Research award with an image that represented my PhD research.

The photo shows one of the gigantic sculptures by Projeto Morrinho, an art project that started out from Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. It consists of – literally – a mountain of bricks colourfully painted in a way to represent a favela community, with its tiny streets, and colourful dwellings up on the hill. It carries positive messages and small figurines, which give a realist but with a touch of fun and grace.

I had captured the image while on a visit to the Museum of Art of Rio de Janeiro, in 2016, then recently refurbished.

I thought this image illustrated my research because it had everything I looked at in media producers from Brazil’s periphery: It showed improvisation, community-spirit, and the right of self-representation, which is a new possibility for Brazil’s disadvantaged populations.

The way that Projeto Morrinho has proudly assembled the installation, which showed one of the region’s which Brazilians had been most ashamed of, either because of its poverty or precariousness, explains how the perception of these communities has changed, within it and outside. They communicated not only hope but a will to confront reality with joy, strength and creativity.

Book review – British Representations of Latin America, Luz Elena Ramirez

800px-Page_187_(The_Lost_World,_1912)While not officially part of the British Empire, interactions between Britain and Latin America have existed in reports, literary accounts, and detail-rich descriptions. Reading a variety of 19th century British writers, we find similarities in reports from many distinct countries that constitute what we call by Latin America; countries as distinct from each other as Mexico and Uruguay, Argentina and Panama, Brazil and Colombia. In British Representations of Latin America (University of Florida Press), we find an interesting model of sociological analysis of these accounts, without resorting to the traditional post-colonial, capitalist imperialism seen when looking at transatlantic relations.

Ramirez starts by reviewing many of the shortcomings of these postcolonial, imperialism theories to explain why British interpretations of Latin America seem so unusual. On the one hand, capitalism theories have focused on trade in colonial times, much embedded in Marxism values, which fail to see implications that lie beyond the much quoted “dependence” theory. For example, these theories would forget the role of British commerce had for the struggle for the region’s independence, which comes down as a relatively positive outcome, let alone all the collaborations that foreign traders received from natives, and local elites.

41mHwueHBSL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_On the postcolonial side, Ramirez sees writers such as Césaire as “romanticizing” Latin America, as much as the “dependence” theory did. Yet, here authors have oversimplified the local context, where “no conflict” existed before the European conquest. Said’s Orientalism is reviewed more positively in that sense, particularly because it fits in very well to understand British colonial narratives. Despite British presence in Latin America appears as less aggressive than in India, for example, though “more risk-sensitive”, Said’s inclination to portray power lays a good foundation for this study, especially in what touches the Foucauldian articulations of power through the discourse.

We are introduced to what Ramirez calls as the Americanist discourse, the colonial view developed by the British on Latin America. Following the next chapters, we find key case studies. Ralegh’s Discovery of Guiana, Conrad’s Nostromo, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Lowrey’s Under the Volcano, and Greene’s work on Mexico, Argentina and Panama. They will subside a discussion that brings about more than “cultural bearing”, that is, despite being novels, some of them ficcional reports, they are also embedded in the complexity of commercial relations between Britain and Latin America of the time. It is not about escaping the image of the “barbarian vs the civilized”, but these texts will reveal much of the post-imperial mood in Britain as the Empire starts its decline at the late 19th century.

We see, for instance, the extent to which Ralegh’s and Schomburgk’s travels across Guiana have brought much of its enthusiasm from the Armada victory against the Spanish. Yet, how Schomburgk’s search for the place of British Empire amid the “savages” of the Amazon. Both are accounts that end up being more about Britain than about Latin America. Not much distant from this, Conrad’s characters have mirrored the late development of the Andean region, but also invites the inevitable “cynicism” with which he sees the dubious role of foreigners in the country’s stabilization. Doyle’s regard to Brazil and the Amazon bears ties with Darwin’s evolution theory and its naturalization of colonizing practices (“beating the natives”, p. 109), but witnesses much of the problematic adaptation of foreigners to the new tropical reality.

The most interesting part of Ramirez’s detailed exploration dwells on the links with metropolitan publications, namely The Review of Reviews, the London-based tabloid. Plenty of satirical views of Britons in the region came out in the tabloid, some of which mirroring prejudice and humor. Not less sensationalist, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Doyle’s The Lost Word stressed the consequences of the British man’s expeditions around the world; in Latin America this gets supernatural tones of shock with nature, the dangers of bureaucracy and corruption among the barbarians. Greene’s The Lawless Roads adds “irritation and boredom” to it, as it quotes the “mañana, mañana” jargon (tomorrow things will be ready) (p. 151).

The merit in critically engaging with such Americanist narratives is that of recognizing what lies behind the literary interpretations from the Empire, whether on Asia and Africa, but which, on Latin America, assume features of its own. It is a “literary conversation” on key themes such as development and trade (p. 169), but which imports folklore and mysticism, unveiling insecurity of Britain’s attempts to engage with the wider world on a non-extractive, classic colonial basis (at least directly). There was a need for the country to launch such expeditions, and much of the disillusion appears in the way Latin America is portrayed as the “disappointing” endeavor, the failing region in the extent of risky commercial partner, which is an impression that stretches over other subjects.

At one level, it is a discourse that fits well in a context of Britain intellectual expansionism to readers back home, partly based on academic interest, as seen in the example in Darwin’s goals of collecting species from around the world, but partly mundane as a pub chat. At another level, that effort is articulated within a new modernist look to the outside, as writers do not get rid of old “civilizing” ideas, which results in their own detachment and poor self-assessment of what “being foreigner” means, a dismay to the outer world that may last to this day.

At the end, Ramirez aims to continue the conversation by citing films that follow this Americanist orientation in contemporary times. And yet, there lies a missed opportunity in this book. Ramirez falls short of developing about Americanism in the aftermath of the British Empire, which could appear interesting to discuss in a time of declining British presence in Latin America.

To what extent could the Americanist discourse reside in Britain’s loss of influence, if not, isolation, in contemporary affairs? How could this framework serve a more ambitious narrative that leads, if not only to indifference, to a certain ignorance? The look at the Americanist narratives as a framework on its own versus its post-colonial implications could also deserve further reviews as the post-structuralism and the preoccupation with language loses popularity in academia, opening space to the political correct.

In any case, British Representations of Latin America achieves a good deal of empirical research regarding an often-dismissed relationship, as it comes as an alternative way of looking at colonial mind set. It confirms neither the hegemonic British look of authority and knowledge, nor the victimizing position that Latin America may assume in post-colonial studies, as hegemonic relations carry far more complexity.

Pensando em favelas como fundações: O caso das Community Land Trusts

Quando observamos a realidade de algumas favelas cariocas, é normal nos renderemos aos problemas. Favelas que sofrem incêndios; outras são palco para a violência urbana. Além do enorme sofrimento impingido aos cidadãos que habitam essas comunidades, há também o problema de custo para o Estado, e a dificuldade em manter novos modelos de gestão, como no caso da UPP para a segurança, que hoje passa por crises.

A visão que cresce a cada dia, no Brasil e internacionalmente, é que a favela, um tipo de comunidade tão tipicamente brasileira, deve ser aprimorada e gerida não como qualquer bairro, mas levando em consideração sua história e estrutura habitacional.

O site Rio on Watch publicou recentemente um estudo sobre o conceito de Community Land Trusts (CLTs), pesando os prós e contras deste modelo para o caso das favelas. Eu pus aqui algumas informações básicas que ajudam a imaginar a implementação deste modelo no Brasil.

Doações, voluntariado e autogestão

As CLTs nasceram de uma ideia do guru e ativista indiano Vinova Bhave. Líder de um movimento de liberação chamado Bhoodan, Bhave propôs, ainda na primeira metade do século XX, conseguir terrenos por meio de doação, para que se construíssem assentamentos destinados a moradia popular, os Gramdans.

 Nos Estados Unidos, a ideia de Bhave inspirou o também ativista Robert Swann (1918-2003) a importar o modelo, levando este a construir pequenos lotes na costa leste dos EUA.

Foi, entretanto, nas comunidades negras do sul, ameaçadas de despejo e perseguição racial, que a possibilidade de comunidades se unirem para comprar o próprio terreno de suas casas (não em unidades) que o modelo tornou-se replicável. A comunidade deixou de ser um piloto para se transformar em uma entidade legal.

Desde então, pertencer a uma CLT quer dizer unir-se a outros moradores para, de posse de um terreno, construir casas a preços módicos, seja por meio de mão de obra voluntária, ou por meio de parcerias com empresas de construção. A associação depois gere a comunidade, formando-se um tipo de “condomínio”. Também por meio de trabalho voluntário, é possível livrar-se de despesas e taxas mensais de manutenção do seu espaço. Alguns participantes, aliás, especialmente nos EUA e Europa, têm dado depoimentos positivos sobre a experiência de “operar” sua própria comunidade.

CLT na Flórida

Hoje nos Estados Unidos existem cerca de 240 associações que conseguiram se firmar, a maior delas detendo mais de 2000 casas, no estado do Vermont. No Reino Unido, o número está próximo de 170 unidades implementadas.

Embora a base das CLTs esteja muito ligada ao meio rural e à “terra”- como podemos ver no vídeo abaixo – sua aplicação tem sido pensada como uma alternativa urbana, especialmente contra a gentrificação. Neste caso, os mesmos grupos adquirem terrenos menores, mas o princípio da autogestão permanece o mesmo. No Reino Unido, o modelo prosperou porque na última década, grande fundações como a Carnegie Foundation deram ajudas substanciais para que comunidades pudessem adquirir grandes lotes.

A CLT network é uma organização sem fins lucrativos que organiza grupos interessados em todo o Reino Unido, mas iniciativas semelhantes têm se multiplicado em toda a Europa. Na Bélgica, outro exemplo de sucesso, alguns projetos agora começam a ser apoiados pelo governo. Na França, o parlamento entrou na discussão desse modelo para viabilizar habitações para famílias de baixa renda.

Modelo jurídicos

Voltando à questão da favela, o relatório do portal Rio on Watch deixa claro que Community Land Trusts são oportunidades a serem investigadas, especialmente em áreas em que há bastante interesse do mercado. A favela da Rocinha por exemplo, vista como uma opção ideal para um potencial setor hoteleiro, reuniria requisitos básicos para a implementação de uma CLT. O acesso ao terreno pelos moradores, por outro lado, dificuldades existem devido a uma possível inflação no preço no momento da vida para uma única entidade. Haveria de se ter algum suporte do governo.

Há também outras questões pendentes. Não só por este ser um experimento incipiente, até agora só testado em sociedades bem diferentes do que a brasileira, mas também no que diz respeito a aspectos legal.

Em primeiro lugar, como seria traduzido o que chamamos de trust? No Brasil, seria certamente algo como fundação, mas que poderia também ser chamado de “associação de moradores”. “Organização Social” (OS) poderia por outro lado ser um modelo ideal como entidade jurídica, embora seja mais usada para gerir museus e entidades culturais.

Assim como o Kibbutz israelense, outro modelo de sucesso, as CLTs também são resultado de uma forte coesão social. No caso israelense, que difere em vários outros aspectos das CLT americanas e europeias, o objetivo final é facilitar a moradia conjunta, muito guiado pela imigração massiva ao país, convivência essa que é ajudada pela religião, e por uma população agricultora.


No caso das favelas e outras comunidades periféricas do Brasil, é impossível prever se haveria uma unidade forte que faça diferenças lideranças entrarem e se manterem num regime de sociedade que compartilhe os mesmos recursos. Por exemplo, haveria dúvidas sobre o desafio de fazer 50.000 pessoas “donas” de um mesmo terreno, ou seja, em fazê-las concordarem nos mesmos objetivos, e ainda investirem o seu tempo e recursos na construção e manutenção de áreas comuns.

Conhecendo mais de perto algumas CLTs implementadas em subúrbios de Londres, por exemplo, há um projeto aberto próximo ao Parque Olímpico, no leste da cidade. Há cerca de 23 casas construídas e outras cem planejadas.

Em todo o processo, moradores me contaram que foi necessário um comitê gestor que tomasse decisões como a quantidade de investimentos, aprovasse gastos para reparos. O mais difícil, segundo eles, foi determinar os próximos passos pensando em toda a comunidade, inclusive o de enfrentar a especulação imobiliária que inflou os preços de imóveis na cidade toda, o que poderia – e ainda pode – influenciar os participantes para que se desfizessem dos seus imóveis.

No Brasil, mais próximos deste modelo de gestão centralizada estão os condomínios fechados. Por mais que hoje estes “bairros” sejam antíteses das favelas em vários sentidos, além de demarcadores para classes sociais mais abastadas, como é Alphaville, em São Paulo, este ainda assim é um modelo de bairro planejado, que poderia servir para outros propósitos e públicos.

Tempo de soluções

Num futuro não muito distante, comunidades centenárias e cheias de histórias como as favelas, poderiam formar-se como uma única unidade administrativa? No caso de a resposta ser sim, esta “organização” poderia ser fundada a partir do atual conceito de lideranças comunitárias? Estaria a população disposta e madura para compartilhar tais decisões? Como a relação com agentes externos, como a polícia ou serviços urbanos funcionariam em território privado?

Essas perguntas devem ser respondidas também no sentido de, sendo ou não uma CLT, não isolar-se ainda mais as favelas. Moradores têm demonstrado cada vez mais vontade de se integrar à cidade, como no livro da Beatriz Jaguaribe sobre o Rio de Janeiro. Muitos gostariam de se ver morando em um bairro como outro qualquer. A desigualdade acentuada pela crise econômica, os desafios de gestão, e a baixa prioridade recebida por diferente governos pedem, por outro lado, uma solução harmonizada para favelas e periferias, mas que não criem novos guetos.

Modelos no mundo estão começando a ser testados, como o das habitações customizáveis do Chile, mas tais saídas ainda estão longe de serem unanimidades. Também há desafios em como se “gerir” comunidades e, aliás, será que elas precisam de gestão? Será que apenas sanando as desigualdades estruturais não seria o bastante?

A solução para favela, assim como outras comunidades cujos direitos fundamentais são sistematicamente negados pelo Estado, passa inevitavelmente por novas alternativas de organização, incluindo a questão da tomada de decisão como um grupo. As CLTs podem inspirar uma conversa sobre como responder à indiferença oficial, o que depende cada vez mais da maneira na qual seus habitantes se relacionam e, assim, se fortalecem.

Leia mais:

Associação de CLTs do Reio Unido (em inglês)

Entrevista com uma moradora de um CLT no Reino Unido (em inglês)

Relatório completo do site Rio on Watch