The Black city:
Modernisation and fugitivities in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Glória Cecília dos Santos Figueiredo, Brais Estévez and Thaís Troncon Rosa
Keywords: Black city; anti-Blackness infrastructures; uncommons; urban collaborations; Salvador, Bahia
Salvador is a Black city. Besides being a place mainly inhabited by a population which is racialised as Black, any urban phenomenon in Salvador is inseparable from the complexities and violence typical of the sites of racial encounter. In this article we explore two collaborative experiences that brought together the authors and different grassroots movements around two urban struggles in the city. The first experience unpacks the 30-year conflicts surrounding the Programme of Recuperation of the Historic Centre of Salvador, where thousands of people were evicted to turn a stigmatised Black neighbourhood into a scenario for cultural heritage enjoyment and tourism. The second experience uncovers plans underway to replace the Subúrbio railway with a monorail, a project which will negatively affect several Black neighbourhoods in Salvador and its metropolitan region and hundreds of thousands of Black daily life practices. These serve as just two examples of urban initiatives cyclically carried out by Salvador’s elites and official spokespeople which, under the discourse of modernisation, always threaten the improvised ways of inhabiting the Black city. We argue that the urban struggles that we analyse in this article trace a continuity with the historical struggles for the affirmation of Black life within sites of racial violence. For this reason, this article establishes a dialogue between urban studies and Black theory, through ideas of Black city and Black fugitivity.