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Mayor Antônio Prado and the black population of São Paulo

Grant number: 18/03092-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2018
Effective date (End): July 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning - Fundamentals of Architecture and Urbanism
Principal Investigator:Ana Cláudia Castilho Barone
Grantee:Débora Fernandes Do Nascimento
Host Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FAU). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


As Officer Rui Barbosa said, abolition in Brazil was an atrocious irony: on the one hand, it released black people from exploitation, on the other it placed them on the margins of society, exempted from protection of any institution. This conclusion reveals that, for Brazilian society, the destiny of black people mattered as long as the country's economy depended on their labor. Once replaced by white immigrants, the ex-slaved man became a symbol of shame, someone to be erased from the national scene. Nothing was guaranteed for the ex-slaved black population: subjected to a new competitive working relationship for which he was not prepared, he did not have any support or guidance from the institutions that set up the State. Thus, his subjection was maintained, both by the direct exploitation of their labor and by the obstruction of their social ascension. Therefore, the new economic and social order released the black man as responsible for his own survival. During the pre- and post-abolition, São Paulo grew both demographically and economically, but this development did not reach the poorest strata. Predominant figure throughout this process, the Counsellor Antônio Prado is one of the social actors that best represent this period's contradictions. The senator, who defended abolition for political interests, also became city mayor of São Paulo, during the long period between 1899 and 1911. In his mandate as mayor, a process of urban segregation was put into practice, disguised by measures aimed for the city "Europeanization". This process was based on the expulsion of black population from the central areas and on the destruction of their spaces of living, meeting, culture and religion. The present research aims to study how the urban policy adopted in the mandate of Antônio Prado influenced the segregation of black people in the city. This policy also reveals contradictions of positions the Counsellor assumed throughout the abolition process in Brazil. A conjunction of how the racial question was treated, the insertion of freed black people into a class economy and the spatial city dynamics resulted in a socio-territorial formation that can be perceived until today in São Paulo. The majority of black population is still concentrated in the lowest strata of society, living in the city outskirts or in precarious areas, and their dwelling spaces are located far from the high-class neighborhoods and districts. Thus, the racial aspect identified in the procedures adopted by the first city mayor assumes great relevance, as this characteristic remained and became recurrent in the urbanism practiced in São Paulo ever since. (AU)

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