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Unsettling Resettlements: Community, Belonging and Livelihood in Rio de Janeiro’s Minha Casa Minha Vida


This chapter argues that looking at forced evictions through the lens of housing resettlement or relocation can challenge the common-sense notion of temporal finality associated to enforced displacements—opening the latter up to a broader framework that recognises continuity across space and time. It focuses on the experiences of post-eviction state-led resettlements in 2 Minha Casa Minha Vida (MCMV) housing projects in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and attends to the relationship between those processes, community life and livelihoods—understood here not only as work, but also as the ability to sustain and flourish in life. In considering the everyday emotional, geographic, material and economic dimensions of post-eviction housing resettlements, as experienced by residents, these sites reveal enduring histories of urban insecurity and inequality that can, amongst other effects, reproduce and intensify gendered social structures.


  • Social Housing
  • Housing Resident
  • Forced Relocation
  • Previous Home
  • Forced Eviction

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  • DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-51127-0_4
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  1. 1.

    All names have been changed to protect respondents’ identities.

  2. 2.

    It has been estimated that up to 170,000 people could be evicted due to projects associated with mega-events (Comitês Populares da Copa 2011).

  3. 3.

    The fieldwork focused on 4 communities affected either by eviction, resettlement or its threat: Vila Autodromo (evicted and threatened), Morro Providencia (evicted and threatened), Recanto de Natureza (evicted/relocated), Bairro Carioca (evicted/relocated) and Mangueira II (evicted/relocated). The local coordinating researcher and sociologist was Camila Lobino from ETTERN/IPPUR/UFRJ. Her input was—and continues to be—invaluable to the success of the research and the project’s afterlife.

  4. 4.

    This mainly included design problems, but also addressed legal issues, such as ensuring the provision of land-titles before expropriation, and not requiring a spouse in order to have contracts in place.

  5. 5.

    Estimated by the National Housing Plan—PlanHab—to be around 7.9 million homes until 2023.

  6. 6.

    The credit card ‘Minha Casa Melhor’ offered by the CAIXA gives MCMV residents R$ 5,000 in credit to buy home furniture and appliances at a 5 % discount rate. All, or some, of the money should be spent within the first 4 months with repayments made subsequently made in monthly instalments. This has been discontinued for the third phase of MCMV.

  7. 7.

    Within MCMV, especially in the western Campo Grande zone, there have been many cases where new residents have been forcibly evicted by militia who go on to sell those apartments in the private housing market. Murders and cases of official corruption have also been in the news regularly.

  8. 8.

    For a summary review of US studies on forced displacement and their effects, see Goetz (2013, pp. 237–239).

  9. 9.

    This has also been found to be true in ‘neighbourhood restructuring’ experiences in Europe where pre-relocation attitudes–that is, a desire to move, versus being forced out–were found to be directly linked to increased satisfaction or upward residential mobility (Kleinhans and Varady 2011).

  10. 10.

    The most emblematic of all is Vila Autódromo, a poor community that sits alongside the Olympic stadium site and which designed its own participatory urban development plans as a counter-proposal to the government’s own initiative. For years, its 100 or so families (out of an original 600) were subjected to bouts of violence and continuous forms of official and extra-legal intimidation (for detailed news on these, see:


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I am grateful for the grants offered by The Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD), Urban Age and the Asia Research Centre at the London School of Economics—that made this research possible. I would also like to thank key collaborators that facilitated my entry into the field—Professor Carlos Vainer, Dr Helena Galiza and Camila Lobino.

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Fernández Arrigoitia, M. (2017). Unsettling Resettlements: Community, Belonging and Livelihood in Rio de Janeiro’s Minha Casa Minha Vida . In: Brickell, K., Fernández Arrigoitia, M., Vasudevan, A. (eds) Geographies of Forced Eviction. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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