Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and Political Science | Grace Hopper College

Shamsa Derrick
All images submitted by students

Senior Essay Title: "Race, Space, and Place: Mapping Socio-Spatial Borders in Rio de Janeiro"

Adviser: Ana Ramos-Zayas

Abstract: This thesis investigates the social and racial map of Rio de Janeiro and examines how physical and social barriers condition the ways in which people interact across race and class. The paper examines the unique relationship between urban space and race in Rio and suggests that there are three characteristics of the city that can be conceptualized as socio-spatial borders. First, the limitations of public transportation and the barriers to urban mobility: The availability of metros and buses limits how low-income Cariocas are able to move around the city. Metro stations have strategically been constructed in wealthy neighborhoods along the beaches and near tourist attractions. Second, the divide between the “morro” and the “asfalto” represents a socio-spatial border because of the ways in which Afro-Brazilians have been segregated in favelas and stigmatized when they leave these spaces. Third, elite housing structures such as “condomínios fechados” contain physical gates and walls and represent a different type of segregation that is born out of racialized and classist fear. An analysis of these “borders” reveals the extent to which racism is ingrained in the physical space of the city. The paper argues that socio-spatial borders function to maintain a racialized geography.