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Claiming the Center: Organized Squatters Movement and Urban Citizenship in Brazil


In this thesis, I study how urban social movements’ resistance to displacement generates new conceptions of citizenship, influencing state’s policy and legislation. Specifically, I explore the case of the organized squatters’ movements (OSMs) of the center of S�o Paulo, Brazil, a social movement that fights for housing opportunities in the city center by occupying long-time vacant properties in the area. I find that OSMs have furthered the agenda of low-income housing in downtown by engaging in a citizenship practice that defies and demands from the state. On the one hand, the state incentivizes displacement processes by allowing land speculation and excluding the voices of grassroots movements in the planning process. On the other, the state is the ally that can stop eviction processes by negotiating with property owners, halting urban interventions, creating laws and implementing policies that benefit OSM groups.

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