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    “The Worker's Party sold out the street vendors”: Revanchist populism and the crisis of labor in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

    Nogueira, Mara (2023) “The Worker's Party sold out the street vendors”: Revanchist populism and the crisis of labor in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space , ISSN 2399-6552.

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    In this paper, I examine the links between revanchist populism and the labor crisis in Brazil, a country with a stratified labor market where informality is prevalent among low-income, racialized groups. I analyze the struggles of street vendors for accessing urban space in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where the Worker’s Party (PT) played a key role in evicting vendors from public spaces and criminalizing their activity in the early 2000s. I focus on the connections between this initiative and a more recent “revitalization” policy that displaced street vendors from public spaces in the city center. In this context, I explore the political discourses of displaced workers during the 2018 elections that brought Bolsonaro to power. I show how the eviction stimulated antipetismo (anti-PT sentiment) among street vendors by triggering collective memories and rage against the party that “sold them out.” I argue that street vendors strongly identify as workers but are excluded from the unionized waged workingmen notion central to unions and Latin American left-wing parties. By discussing how street vendors reiterate their position as workers and not criminals, I highlight their identification with a moral notion of worker aligned with Bolsonaro’s conservative anti-crime agenda. I thus argue that support for Bolsonaro among street vendors was stimulated by the shortcomings of Brazil’s urban reform as well as the lack of appropriate policy responses to an increasingly heterogeneous and informalized workforce. I conclude by emphasizing the importance of supporting the collective struggles of non-waged workers as a path beyond revanchist populism.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies, Centre for (CILAVS)
    Depositing User: Mara Nogueira
    Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2023 06:23
    Last Modified: 05 Dec 2023 08:47


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