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Accepted Paper:

De-Stabilising Urban Social Relations: Exploring the Geographies of Ipanema Beach  


Blanca Yanez Serrano

Paper short abstract:

This research explores Ipanema Beach, focusing on its socio-spatialities in relation to its economic informalities. The Beach's specificities reproduce Rio de Janeiro's wider urban relations of segregation and inequality, inasmuch as it transforms them through the care promoted by informality.

Paper long abstract:

This research explores the geographies of Ipanema Beach, focusing on its socio-spatialities and its informal economic activities. It investigates the extent to which the specificities of Ipanema Beach reproduce or transform Rio de Janeiro's wider urban social relations of segregation and inequality, using postcolonial methodology and ethnographic fieldwork.

Theoretical concepts such as geographies of care, economic informality, democratic public space and Ipanema's demophobia are used to analyse the Beach's social relations between beach-goers and beach workers and the spatial relations between the Beach and the wider city. The research shows that the socio-spatialities of Ipanema Beach reproduce Rio's wider relations in ways such as othering between beach-goers, class and racial discrimination and violent conflict. Simultaneously, the context of Ipanema Beach also transforms wider urban relations by constituting socio-spatial interactions shaped on care that enhance community co-existence and de-stabilise wider urban segregation. Informal vendors practice care and sociability as a form of insurgent citizenship that responds to wider socio-economic instability. Care is practised through collective solidarity between beach workers, such as helping one another and keeping each other safe. The spatial circulation of informal vendors and their relations with beach-goers further promotes care, for instance keeping beach-goers safe and building convivial relationships based on respect.

As such, Ipanema Beach acts as a key arena in Rio by revealing how wider social relations can be transformed through care, making it a worthwhile site of geographical inquiry and offering constructive lessons 'from within' that can relationally transform Rio de Janeiro's wider socio-economic fabric.

Panel IN04
Care & Community: Inspiration from Nature