Evictions in the shadows of the stadiums
: space and resistance at Rio 2016

  • Adam Talbot

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the resistance to eviction of the Vila Autódromo favela, an informal community adjacent to the Rio 2016 Olympic park. The thesis explores how the space and place of the favela were constructed by residents and supporters to undermine the justification for evictions by providing an alternative discourse of informal communities to the stereotyped vision of slums. Understanding these communities and their struggle for rights is of fundamental importance given the current political turmoil in Brazil which threatens to remove the few rights that have been won through previous struggles. The ethnographic approach taken in this thesis provides close, in-depth discussion of the contentious politics around the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, specifically related to evictions in Vila Autódromo. The year-long period of fieldwork was crucial to fully understand the complexity and context of contentious politics in Rio.

    This thesis makes contributions across a number of fields. Firstly, the thesis provides the first ethnographic examination of protest at the sport mega-events, building on the limited research linking sport and social movements. I also address the issues of rights at the Olympic Games, making a timely contribution to this debate given the International Olympic Committee’s recent commitment to human rights in host cities. Through discussing the rights claimed by residents and the actions of the city, we see rights are constructed by governments and elites, often excluding marginalised groups from justice. Further, the thesis makes contributions to spatial theory, critiquing the inherent power Lefebvre assigns to the state in constructing urban space based on the different power dynamics which exist in informal communities. Building on this, I also argue that social movements not only use space, but actively construct and produce space. This approach to integrating spatial theory with theories of contentious politics goes beyond many simplistic analyses of social movements and space which examine the spaces movements use to protest. Through liminal events in this constructed space, activists and residents generated a strong sense of the place of the favela which supported an alternative discourse of favela, undermining justifications for eviction. I also discuss the process of negotiation with journalists, often ignored within framing theory, by which activists generated sympathetic coverage of their struggle, spreading the sense of place around the world.
    Date of AwardSept 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorThomas Carter (Supervisor)


    • resistance
    • space
    • place
    • discourse
    • informal communities
    • rights
    • Rio 2016

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