Squatting as tactics for creative resistance and transformation:

The experience of a Brazilian housing occupation

Juliana Canedo and Luciana Andrade

Published in Issue 3.2 // The Long Read

Keywords: squatting, Rio de Janeiro, resistance, social movements, housing struggle


This paper aims to discuss the processes of resistance and transformation that take place in squats in Brazil and thus shed a light on potential innovative forms of producing and inhabiting the city that emerge from the articulation between inhabitants, social movements, university, activists, and public sectors in these spaces. This work is anchored in the case of a squat in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, which provides empirical data and engages it in dialogue with the right to the city. The paper proposes to analyze the experience of squatting in Brazil through three different dimensions of potential tactics for transformation: political, urban, and social. It draws from the authors’ years of active engagement with the squat and the accumulated research and teaching experience in the field of informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro. The paper aims to demonstrate that squats can be both seen and used as tactics for transformation which can lead to alternative forms of inhabiting the city that arise from insurgent and collaborative practices.


Juliana Canedo is a Postdoctoral researcher at Habitat Unit, Technical University Berlin. Her research topics involve housing for vulnerable communities, insurgent practices and collaborative design, focusing on the critical debate of the role of city-building professionals.

Luciana Andrade is an associate professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism and a permanent member of the Postgraduate Program in Urbanism from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her main research and community outreach activities topic is low-income housing, with a focus on occupations in central areas, slums (favelas) and refurbishment of estate housing.

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