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"Estudos Avançados" #107 analyzes inequalities based on urban infrastructure

by Richard Meckien - published May 08, 2023 02:40 PM - - last modified Aug 03, 2023 12:41 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

Capa da revista Estudos Avançados 107

Deficiencies that highlight inequalities in the Metropolitan Region of Rio Janeiro are the subject of the opening dossier of Estudos Avançados #107. Its digital version is available on the Scientific Electronic Library Online (Portuguese only). Entitled "Urban Infrastructure," the five studies in the set discuss both the very concept of "infrastructural turn" in urban studies in the last two decades and aspects related to the precariousness of access to water, waste management, distribution of the electricity network, and the social life connected with a cycle path. The authors are from the areas of sociology, anthropology, and urbanism.

According to the journal's editor, Sérgio Adorno, the dossier explores the new dimensions of social inequalities, "as well as highlights the strangulation of urban policies implemented by different government administrations."

The article by Mariana Cavalcanti and Marcella Araújo, both from the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), discusses the "structural turn" from the theories and temporalities of the urbanization of Brazilian cities. The objective, they say, is to bring a "panoramic view of theoretical discussions produced in Brazil, based on ethnographic research that has been the subject of everyday production in cities for fifty years" to the international debate.

The importance of water in the daily life of women living in favelas (local slums) and occupations in Rio de Janeiro is analyzed in the study by Camila Pierobon, from the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP), and Camila Fernandes, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Through small domestic events, dialogues with residents of those places, or more extensive ethnographic descriptions, the researchers show how "water carries the strength of what is ordinary and is one of the objects that allow us to see the power and vulnerability that daily life carries in terms of gender, class, and race."

Based on the infrastructural changes in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, urbanist Francesca Piló, from Utrecht University, examines how the configuration of electricity networks collaborates in formatting the urban fabric of the city in its material and technological forms, symbolic discourse, and everyday practices. The article identifies three ways in which this contribution occurs: 1) reordering of urban space, 2) urban fragmentation, and 3) daily practices of handling meters and direct connection to the network (gatos).

The work of sociologist Maria Raquel Passos Lima, from UERJ, adopts the spaces of waste dumps and landfills, usually made invisible and stigmatized, as a privileged focus of analysis to think about the production of the city. She introduces the concept of "residual infrastructure" as a strategy for this examination. Based on the case of the closure of the waste landfill at Jardim Gramacho, in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, she addresses "a process of infrastructural change or dismantling of an infrastructure." The ethnographic part corresponds to the fieldwork carried out during her doctoral research, when she accompanied the activities of recyclable waste pickers for 14 months.

Desabamento da Ciclovia Tim Maia
Collapse of part of the Tim Maia Cycleway, in the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro, in April 2016

The effects of the implantation of the Tim Maia Cycleway on social life is the subject of the article by anthropologist Julia O'Donnell. She recalls that the equipment was hailed at its inauguration, in 2016, for offering new frameworks for the oceanfront landscape in addition to new alternatives for urban mobility, a combination that made it a "central element of a broader city project, which had the harmonization between man and nature as one of its main axes." By following the process of idealization, construction, and inauguration of the equipment and its successive collapses, the work intends to discuss how this peculiar case allows reflection on important aspects of urban infrastructure from anthropology.

The nine articles in the second section of the issue, "Presences," brings articles on various topics related to history, education, culture, and the history of science. In the first one, Milena Fernandes de Oliveira analyzes the way in which the relationship between economy and history has been presented in the work of Gilberto Freyre, particularly in "The Masters and the Slaves" (Casa-Grande & Senzala) and "The Mansions and the Shanties" (Sobrados e Mucambos).

In his article, Victor Santos Vigneron de la Jousselandière seeks to identify the tensions that cross the work of critic Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes in a period marked by the emergence of a new cinematographic production and by discussions around the economic development of the country. The reference is the conference Cinema Brasileiro e Realidade Social, written by the critic in the early 1960s. The relationship between cinema and literature present in the film La Flor (2018), by Argentine filmmaker Mariano Llinás, is explored in the article by Rogério de Almeida and Cesar Zamberlan, which aims to understand the interpretative perspectives that emerge from the film and the way in which they relate to the literary and cinematographic resources used by Llinás.

Antonio Candido - 2
Literary critic Antonio Candido (1918-2017), whose work is analyzed from the point of view of its importance for education

The works of literary critic Antonio Candido and Peruvian Marxist thinker José Carlos Mariátegui are the subjects of articles by Márcia Machado and Deni Alfaro Rubbo, respectively. For Machado, it is not an exaggeration to say that Candido has provided important contributions, subsidies, and theoretical tools to rethink the way in which the training process has been conceived, and education and university have been historically constructed in Brazil. Rubbo's work makes a critical evaluation of the book "In the Red Corner: The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui," by historian Mike Gonzales, to observe the scope and gaps of the work from the comparison with other works.

Three articles address specific literary works. Edinael Sanches Rocha undertakes a stylistic analysis of Meu Tio o Iauaretê, by João Guimarães Rosa, and seeks to identify data in the culture of native peoples that could establish links of meaning with the tale. Based on Winnicottian psychoanalysis, the study by Luan Felipe de Souza Junqueira and Fabio Scorsolini-Comin reflects on the psychic illness process of the character Laura in the short story A Imitação da Rosa, by Clarice Lispector. The relationship between the characters Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Dulcineia is the subject of the article by Maria Augusta da Costa Vieira, whose objective is to understand the reasons that lead the reader to "admir and intensely respect a character who, in essence, is a complete madman."

The section ends with a study by Heráclio Tavares on the non-verbal dimension of scientific practice. He examines ideas from different authors, and drafts of articles and entries by physicist César Lattes in his laboratory notebooks. Lattes has been one of the main people responsible for the experimental observation of the decay of the pi meson. Tavares explains that part of this process took place through the development of the visual scientist's ability to perceive the shapes of the traces left by the particles in the detectors.

The editor of the journal highlights the opportunity of the article by physicist and environmentalist José Goldemberg about the 30 years of the Climate Convention, which opens the "Current affairs" section. The other studies in the section are about the enunciative-discursive differences in street demonstrations in Brazil in 1983-84 and 2013, the challenge of environmental and social integration of primitive and contemporary humanity, the historical contextualization of the relationships between consumption, capitalism, and human passions that have shaped contemporary consumer culture, and the discourses present in articles about tattoos published in Brazilian journals between 1990 and 2020.

Capa de "Torto Arado"
''Crooked Plow: A Novel'' (Torto Arado), one of the books reviewed in issue #107

The issue closes with six book reviews, including "Crooked Plow: A Novel" (Torto Arado), by Itamar Vieira Junior, reviewed by Winifred Knox and Miridan Britto Falci. The other texts address books about the interest of Americans of African descent in knowing the strong connections of the Brazilian state of Bahia with Africa, the history of literary and cultural relations between Brazil and France, the characteristics of the Soviet revolutionary process until Stalinism, the typology of bildungsromane, and the development of artificial intelligence in China.

The list below contains the names of the authors who have contributed with each one of the addressed themes:

Urban infrastructures

Autoconstruction and City Production: Another Genealogy of Urban Infrastructure Studies - Mariana Cavalcanti and Marcella Araujo
Caring for Others, Taking Care of Water: Gender and Race in the Production of the City - Camila Pierobon and Camila Fernandes
From "Cycle-view" to "the Bike Path to Death": The Social Life of Urban Infrastructure - Julia O’Donnell
Residual Infrastructures: Colonialisms in Waste Management and Catador Politics - Maria Raquel Passos Lima
The Techno-political Fabric of Rio de Janeiro: Insights from Electricity Infrastructure - Francesca Pilo’


On the Economic Interpretation of History in Gilberto Freyre (1933-1956) - Milena Fernandes de Oliveira
"Brazilian Cinema and Social Reality," by Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes - Victor Santos Vigneron de la Jousselandière
La Flor, by Mariano Llinás: Cinema Re-encounters Literature - Rogério de Almeida and Cesar Zamberlan
Literature, Instruction, and Education in the Work of Antonio Candido: The Humanization of Man - Márcia Machado
Iauaretê, Further Beyond: New Relations between the Culture of Original Peoples and "My Uncle, the Iauaretê," by João Guimarães Rosa - Edinael Sanches Rocha
The Ineffable Luminosity of Madness in "The Imitation of the Rose" - Luan Felipe de Souza Junqueira and Fabio Scorsolini-Comin
Don Quixote, Sancho Panza. and Dulcinea - Maria Augusta da Costa Vieira
Mariátegui in Debate: Marxist Ghosts and Critical Horizons - Deni Alfaro Rubbo
Non-verbal Knowledge in the History of Science: The Prowess of César Lattes - Heráclio Tavares

Current affairs

Thirty Years of the Convention on Climate Change - José Goldemberg
Postmodern Tension in Street Demonstrations in Brazil: Dialogical Notes on Political Signature - Anderson Salvaterra Magalhães
An Integrative Conception of Humanity - Julio Aurelio Vianna Lopes
Ethical Dilemmas in Consumer Culture: Anthropocene, Psychoanalysis, and Capitalism as the Operational Mode of Passions - Isleide Arruda Fontenelle
Tattooing: a Rhizomatic Map of a Research Theme - Valéria Cazetta


Bahia as an African Destination - Nathalia Silva
Crooked Plow and the Deep Brazil - Winifred Knox and Miridan Britto Falci
French-Brazilian Literary and Cultural Space - Marise Hansen
From Lenin to Stalin: Continuances and Ruptures - Lincoln Secco
Bildungsroman: The Multiple Variations of a Genre - Klaus Eggensperger
Artificial Intelligence in the East-West Divide - Isadora Maria Roseiro Ruiz and Cristina Godoy Bernardo de Oliveira

Photos: Fernando Frasão/Agência Brasil; Mauro Bellesa/IEA-USP