Pathways to urban citizenship for low- income migrants in São Paulo

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  • 2015•09•01

    Megha Amrith

    Recent waves of migrants are establishing an increasingly visible presence in the urban landscape of São Paulo, both in its centre and its peripheries. Though a city with a rich history of immigration and diversity, the arrival of migrants in recent decades has not been accompanied by specific municipal policies for the migrant population, an absence which affects in particular, low-income migrants. Urban social movements for migration take on the role of attempting to govern migration in the city by providing everyday support to migrants as well as mobilising them as a political group to demand changes on both national and municipal scales; yet these movements have limitations. The paper thus also highlights the agency of migrants in accessing their rights through empowering micro-level social networks and through individual negotiations with legal possibilities. Drawing on examples of institutional, activist and migrant practices in addressing questions of inclusion and exclusion in the city, the paper will trace the multiple and still fragmented ways of articulating rights and developing a sense of urban citizenship as newer waves of migrants join the urban landscape of São Paulo.

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