Contested grounds: Adaptation to flooding and the politics of (in)visibility in São Paulo's eastern periphery

Karen Paiva Henrique, Petra Tschakert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


As flood events become more intense and frequent, cities throughout the world increasingly devise projects for flood management and control, including hard and soft infrastructural solutions. Among these, an emblematic example is the project Parque Várzeas do Tietê (PVT) – or Tietê Lowlands Park – a 75 km-long floodplain restoration scheme proposed by the government of São Paulo, Brazil, to allegedly solve the city's flooding problem. The project's execution, however, is contingent on the removal of approximately 7500 low-income families, raising questions on the intertwined relationship between adaptation to flooding and the exclusion of informal urban settlements. Drawing on urban and feminist political ecology, we use the PVT as a case study to examine the politics and uneven outcomes of adaptation in São Paulo's eastern periphery. We combine archival and ethnographic work to expose the persistent politics of invisibility that sustain the project's exclusionary contours. In the process, we also demonstrate the various ways floodplain residents reshape their invisibility to contest, negotiate, and resist the PVT in the spaces of their everyday lives. As a result, the analysis identifies the project's perverse effects but also opportunities for productive engagements between the government and local communities towards more just, inclusive, and equitable adaptation futures in São Paulo, and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
Early online date7 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


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