The role of Black women in urban housing struggles in Brazil:

From land occupations to the institutional policy

Thalles Vichiato Breda

Published in Issue 5.1 // The Long Read

Keywords: Housing policy, homeless movements, land occupations, intersectionality, Latin America, Brazil


In recent years, housing movements and their activists have gained more prominence as housing has become increasingly unaffordable. In Brazil, land occupations, a tool for housing access, are mainly composed of Black women—the most vulnerable societal group. Black women have developed a vital role in the housing struggle, being responsible for the occupations’ management and their victories. Still, they are invisible to part of society and to some scholars. This article analyzes the role of Black women in land occupations organized by the MTST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto—Homeless Workers Movement). It discusses how they became activists, accessed leadership positions, and more recently, how they push to access positions in institutional and party politics. The research is based on ethnographic field work in an MTST occupation in São Carlos during 2018 and 2021 and analyses of the movement and its leaders’ social media profiles.

Thalles Vichiato Breda is a PhD candidate at the Department of Postgraduate Studies in Sociology at Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar – Brazil) and a PhD candidate at the Institute of Architecture and Urbanism of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Germany). He is Assistant Researcher at IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement – France), Researcher at Sagemm Network: Social Activities, Gender, Markets and Mobilities from below (Latin America), Researcher at Observatory of Inequalities, Conflicts, Autonomy and Democracy (UFSCar) and Assistant Editor of Contemporânea – UFSCar Sociology Journal.

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