Right to the City: Mobilizing in the Urban Periphery

Thursday, February 5, 2015 2:00pm – 3:15pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Guadalupe García, Department of History, Tulane University

Where Power Technologies Collide: The Production of Violence in Northern Honduras
Leanna First-Arai, Tulane University

In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre writes that diversion and appropriation of a given space for a new purpose “call[s] but a temporary halt to domination.” Through the analytical lens of Lefebvre’s work, this paper will analyze gang membership and the symbolic domination of urban space as an act of temporary resistance to the cultural hegemony of globalization. The paper will use one case in particular—MS13 and 18th Street gang activity in the Honduran city of El Progreso—to trace the circulation of people, products and power to and from the city and state, arguing that the resulting violence is a direct legacy of neoliberal reforms and mono-crop agricultural exploitation.

Structuring Political Supremacy around Religious Dominance: Building Tenochtitlan and Mexico City
Julia O’Keefe, Tulane University

Fertile Ground for Mobilization: Urban Family Farms in Rio de Janeiro
Ezra Spira-Cohen, Tulane University

Urban farmers in Brazilian capitals face levels of poverty and underdevelopment similar to rural areas. In addition, they face unique challenges, including environmental degradation, urban sprawl, and speculative real estate investment, which further exacerbate their exclusion from the developing areas that surround them. Family based agricultural production in rural Brazil has benefited from legal and political mechanisms that were created in the 1996 with the Programa Nacional de Fortalecimento da Agricultura Familiar (PRONAF) and expanded during the 2000s with direct interventions from the Lula government, but family farms in urban and peri-urban areas have been left out of this process. Only recently, policymakers have begun to take heed.
This paper examines how the institutions built to bridge the gap between urban and rural development in Brazil have created barriers for the expansion of family farming at the urban periphery. Building on my experience with the AS-PTA (a vital NGO that promotes urban agriculture) and on an extensive body of Brazilian scholarly work, this paper looks closely at the growth of local farmers markets and urban agricultural production in Rio de Janeiro. My experiences as well as primary and secondary resources suggest that civil society actors (NGOs, community based organizations, and consumer networks) play a key role in articulating and expanding two interactions that are crucial for family farmers. These are 1) government institutions that regulate farming practices and determine eligibility for financing, and 2) the local and regional consumer base. As the interaction between farmers, consumers, and state institutions hinges upon civil society actors, urban family farming becomes fertile ground for mobilizing around alternative models of production and sustainable agriculture practices.