Comparative urban studies, urbanization in the global south, social theory, ethnography and qualitative methodology.
Teresa Caldeira’s research focuses on the predicaments of urbanization, such as spatial segregation, social discrimination, and the uses of public space in cities of the global south. She has been studying the relationships between urban form and political transformation, particularly in the context of democratization. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining methodologies, theories, and approaches from the different social sciences, the humanities, and the design disciplines. She has been especially concerned with reshaping ethnographic methods for the study of cities.
Teresa Caldeira’s book City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo (University of California Press, 2000), won the Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society in 2001 and has been translated into Portuguese and Spanish. The book presents a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which crime, fear of violence, and disrespect of citizenship rights intertwine with urban transformations to produce a new pattern of urban segregation based on fortified enclaves. Focusing on São Paulo and using comparative data on Los Angeles, City of Walls suggests that the new pattern of urban segregation developing in these cities also appears in many metropolises around the world. It proposes that the built environment may be the arena in which the contestation of democratization, social equalization, and expansion of citizenship rights is materially embodied in contemporary societies.
Teresa Caldeira’s three current research projects seek to investigate new formations of urban life and city space as they intersect with new technologies of the public, new forms of governance, and new paradigms of urban planning.
The first project examines a diverse range of public practices and artistic interventions including graffiti and pixação (tagging), rap, massive demonstrations by minority movements and religious groups, poetry readings, skateboarding, parkour, and motorcycling, that are transforming cities and their public spaces around the world. They articulate anew the profound social inequalities that have always marked these cities and create new modes of using the city. Based on many years of ethnographic research in São Paulo, she argues that these practices, both as artistic productions and urban performances, not only give the subaltern classes new visibility in the city and transform the character of public space but also express highly contradictory forms of political action. They affirm rights to the city while fracturing the public with aggressiveness and expose discrimination while refusing integration. Thus they require new conceptualizations of democratic public space and of the role of citizens in producing the city.
The second research project focuses on peripheral urbanization in the global south. It analyzes and theorizes auto-construction, acknowledging that cities around the world have been largely constructed by their residents, who build not only their own houses but also their neighborhoods. This long-term process involves interaction with state institutions and capitalist markets but in transversal ways. Residents prepare plans but escape the framing of official planning. They utilize mechanisms of land purchase, consumption, and even credit, but bypass the logics of formal real estate, finance, and commodity circulation. While building houses and cities they make themselves into citizens and political agents, become fluent in rights talk, and claim the city as their own.
The third project is a collaboration with Gautam Bhan, from the Indian Institute for Human Settlement; Kelly Gillespie, from the department of anthropology, University of Witwatersrand; and AbdouMaliq Simone, from the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. The project focuses on four metropolises to the global south -- São Paulo, New Delhi, Johannesburg, and Jakarta – to explore the emergence of surprising new forms of collective life. Their protagonists are a new generation of urbanites who are not migrants but are city-born. Coming of age under democracy and with access to information and consumption unimaginable to previous generations, they demonstrate new and complex relationships with the city and urban citizenship. The new arrangements they create are transforming everyday life, urban spaces, gender relations, and urban politics of many cities across the south.
In 2012, she received a Faculty Mentor Award, Graduate Assembly, University of California, Berkeley.
Teresa Caldeira was named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.
City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press. (2000)
Peripheral Urbanization: Autoconstruction, Transversal Logics, and Politics in Cities of the Global South. Environment and Planning D – Society and Space. 35(1): 3-20 (2017)
Social Movements, Cultural Production, and Protests: São Paulo’s Shifting Political Landscape. Current Anthropology. 56(11): S126-S136 (2015)
Participatory Urban Planning in Brazil, with James Holston. Urban Studies. 52(11): 2001-2017[TU1] (2015)
Qual a Novidade dos Rolezinhos? Espaço Público, Desigualdade e Mudança em São Paulo. Novos Estudos. 98: 13-20 (2014)
Gender Is Still The Battleground: Youth, Cultural Production, and the Remaking of Public Space in São Paulo. In The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, Susan Parnell and Sophie Oldfield, editors. London: Routledge. Pp. 413-427. (2014)
Inscrição e Circulação: Novas Visibilidades e Configurações do Espaço Público em São Paulo. Novos Estudos 94: 31-67 (2012)
Imprinting and Moving around: New Visibilities and Configurations of Public Space in São Paulo. Public Culture 24(2): 385-419. (2012)
Ruth Cardoso. Obra Reunida. Organization and presentation by Teresa P. R. Caldeira. São Paulo: Mameluco. (2011)
Walls and New Technologies of the Public/Muros e Novas Tecnologias do Público. In Muntadas – Informação >> Espaço >> Controle, Jose Roca, curator. São Paulo: Estação Pinacoteca. Pp 216-233. (bilingual edition, English and Portuguese). (2011)
Espacio, segregación y arte urbano en el Brasil. Barcelona/Buenos Aires: CCCB/Katz. (2010)
Urban Peripheries and the Invention of Citizenship, with James Holston. Harvard Design Magazine. 28:18-23. (2008)
From Modernism to Neoliberalism in São Paulo: Reconfiguring the City and its Citizens. In Other Cities, Other Worlds – Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing Age, Andreas Huyssen, editor. Duke University Press. Pp. 51-77. (2008)
"I came to sabotage your reasoning!": Violence and Resignifications of Justice in Brazil. In Law and Disorder in the Postcolony, John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, editors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 102-149. (2006)
State and Urban Space in Brazil: From Modernist Planning to Democratic Interventions, with James Holston. In Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, Aihwa Ong and Stephen J. Collier, editors. London: Blackwell. Pp. 393-416. (2005)
Enclaves Fortificados: A Nova Segregação Urbana. Novos Estudos 47: 155-176 (1997)
Fortified Enclaves: The New Urban Segregation. Public Culture 8(2): 303-328. (1996)