Accepted Paper:

From racialization to dehumanization: urban segregation and State governance  


Ana Rita Alves (Centre for Social Studies )

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes how colonial rationalities shape contemporary urban landscapes, specifically in Lisbon (Portugal). I focus on the role of the racialized apparatus of governance in forging the existence of “ungrievable lives” in the "ghetto" and preventing people to access rights.

Paper long abstract:

Since colonial times, processes of racialization have been constructed in a close relationship with notions of space, enclosure and confinement. Racialization has played a fundamental role in dethatching certain areas of the urban landscape, producing them as marginal and unlawful, and thus creating the idea that it is necessary to intervene. I focus on specific urban locations in Lisbon, namely the so-called "bairros", self-constructed neighborhoods and public housing quarters. The history of this peripheral ubanizations can be traced back to the first five decades of democracy in Portugal. At first, the self-constructed neighborhoods in the outskirts of the city represented the only housing solution for most of the migrants that came from the former colonies; later on, public housing quarters - even more segregated than the first ones - were developed within the Special Rehousing Program. With a focus on police brutality and eviction processes that took place in different peripheral neighborhoods of the city, I argue that institutional processes of racialization had led to corresponding processes of dehumanization. Dehumanization enables the existence of "ungrievable lives" in the "ghetto" that are constantly subjected to State control and repression, in a context of social and political indifference. Therefore, the interrelation of territorial apparatus of governance and institutional racism prevents migrants, black Portuguese and Portuguese gypsy/Roma communities from accessing housing, citizenship and (human) rights.

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