In preparation for hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil is literally reshaping several of its major cities in ways that many consider controversial. Academic geographer, investigative journalist, and author Christopher Gaffney discusses the social movements rising up in Brazil to contest how urban governments are using these “mega-events” as levers to transform a nation.
This talk will also focus on the shifting processes of urban governance through which Brazil has come to host this cycle of major events and the networks of resistance taking shape as World Cup preparations accelerate. Using Rio de Janeiro as the primary case study, the talk will open debate about the role of localized movements in contesting Brazil’s macro-scale political economy, which uses these events and other urban spectacles to transform Brazilian cities in ways that do not represent the needs (or heed the voices of) their inhabitants.
Gaffney has conducted research in Brazil since 2004 when he began work on Temples of the Earthbound Gods (2008), which investigates the history and culture of football stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires and uses them as lenses to observe the shifting urban landscape from the late-19th to the early-21st century. In 2009, Gaffney returned to Rio on a Fulbright Fellowship and began an investigation of the urban, political, and economic interventions for the 2014 World Cup.
Gaffney has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the Geography Department of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), and at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niterói, Brazil, where he is currently a visiting professor.