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Accepted Paper:

Intersectional Ecologies of Risk and Reconstruction in São Paulo  
Giuseppina Forte (Williams College)

Paper short abstract:

Under the Cantareira forest in São Paulo, landslides and flooding are just two dimensions of risk ecologies affecting precarious dwellings. My ethnography contrasts bureaucratic accounts with ecologies of risk and reconstruction assembled around Black and Brown women in the afterlife of colonialism.

Paper long abstract:

At the feet of the Serra da Cantareira forest in São Paulo, dwellings perched on the hills' slopes are at risk of landslides, while hydrological hazards threaten shacks built along creeks, canals, and rivers. Landslides and flooding are just two dimensions of more complex materiality and ecology of risk that escape bureaucratic modes of accounting, census, and mapping. These include everyday bodily injuries, crumbling infrastructure, polluted waters, deadly mosquito viruses, and hazardous objects. At the same time, top-down governmental approaches do not consider the economies and networks of subsistence assembled by and around Black and Brown women in risk areas, including food selling, scavenging, and the reuse of furniture and appliances. Their spatial networks encompass domestic kitchens, open dumps, and improvised street stalls. They also involve the circuits of family allowances provided by different systems of power, like the state, the church, and drug trafficking. Through ethnographic and visual fieldwork in the periphery of São Paulo, I repopulate bird's-eye views of risk dynamics with people and their everyday lives. I examine materiality and ecologies of risk both as places where effects occur and as media through which biopolitics is enacted. What material and ecological formations enable biopolitics? How can we break them apart in a way that forecloses potential for gendered and racialized predation? How do liminal presences in risk areas exceed and haunt institutional framing? How can material and ecological narratives disrupt the afterlife of colonialism perpetrated through precarious dwelling?

Panel P069b
Inhabiting liminality. Housing precarity in its spatial, political and social dimensions II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -