Houselessness, Infrastructural Exclusion, and Stigmatization
Published in Issue 4.1 // Updates
Keywords: Houselessness, infrastructural stigmatization, racialized and gendered geographies, Brazil, São Paulo
At the feet of the Serra da Cantareira forest in São Paulo, land grabbers illicitly seize and sell land to houseless people. In 2019, I conducted fieldwork in a newly established squatter camp along the Tremembé River, inhabited mainly by Black and Brown women who had migrated from rural Brazil. Since they are considered illegal occupants by the authorities and live in an area at risk of flooding, they may soon be evicted without compensation. The criminalization of these houseless people by the government overlaps with the stigma attached to them by the residents of nearby settlements. They associate the squatters with alleged disruptive practices against nature (deforestation, pollution, and garbage accumulation), theft of electricity, and appropriation of federal subsidies. Stemming from hygienist discourses, racialized and gendered ideologies shape this environmental imagination.