Excavating Ocupa Rio I: 'We Are the 99%!(?)'

November 7th 2011

David Thompson has been travelling around South America since he completed his Honours thesis on cosmpolitanism and urban poverty in Latin America at The Univeristy of Sydney, Australia, in late 2010. He is currently in Rio de Janeiro, where he is flash-researching the Ocupa Rio protests. This is the first entry in a two-part series. Part II, 'Excavating Ocupa Rio II: Trouble on Love Street', was published on Wednesday 9th November, 2011.

On Saturday October 22 a group of approximately sixty protesters began an occupation of the Floriano Plaza, a historical point of protest located in Cinelândia, part of the city's financial centre. While the first meeting was on October 15 next to the nearby Municipal Theatre to decide on whether to protest, the following Saturday was the beginning of a permanent presence and camp in the plaza, which has seen crowds of up to 500 people and approximately 120 tents.

Commonsense practice or state-sponsored caste system? Social stratification in Bogotá, Colombia

October 28th 2011

Steven Bunce is a PhD candidate at The University of Sydney, Australia. He is currently living in Bogotá, Colombia, where he is researching the nation's class system and the incorporation of internally displaced persons into the city's sociocultural landscape. 

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A running joke in Colombia is that the rich want to be English, the intellectuals want to be French, the middle class want to be Americans, and the poor want to be Mexicans.  - William Ospina, 1996

Since 1988, residential zones in Colombia’s capital have been organized into six strata (estratos). This holds an important administrative function by which the upper classes pay a higher rate for their services or utilities to subsidize the costs of services for the lower classes.

While degrees of social stratification and grouping based on socio-economic status are evident in all societies, there are very few cities in the world in which income-based class divisions are explicitly categorized and its citizens classified and demarcated via a public policy.

Call for Papers: Materiality and Poverty at EASA 2012

October 26th 2011

Workshop title: Materiality and Poverty

Chair: Erin B. Taylor

Discussant: Daniel Miller

Abstracts due: November 28, 2011

We are pleased to invite the submission of abstracts for the following workshop at the next EASA conference in Nanterre, Paris, from the 10th-13th July 2012.  The theme of the conference is 'Uncertainty and Disquiet'. More information on our workshop can be found below and also on the EASA site. Please submit abstracts by the 28th November by logging into the EASA website, and feel free to email me if you have any questions. We are looking forward to a great discussion in Paris!

The materiality of poverty II: Squatting as an enabling constraint in the Dominican Republic

October 24th 2011

In my last post I argued that the material culture of poor people is not reducible to their poverty, and gave the example of Haiti's rich cultural traditions, including their art and religious artefacts.

In this post I want to discuss how living in a squatter settlement can affect the relationship of poor people with their material culture.  When people are living in conditions of abject poverty, to what extent can we really say that their material culture can be analyzed separately to their poverty?