Critical Thinking to Fight Space Segregation

 Critical Thinking to Fight Space Segregation

Normally, it is common to observe differences between the spaces which constitute the structure of large cities. This observation highlights that there is a spatial segregation of the citizens who do not have the financial conditions to live in organised neighbourhoods: their biggest limitation is undoubtedly related to the access to leisure and cultural spaces. Discussing this is issue is therefore key to any reflection on social awareness.

By Vitor Cardoso Alves / AJN

In order to debate racial segregation as a form of Human rights violation, it is necessary to do an historiographically-based prehistoric contextualization of situations which introduce or initiate the discussion on this socially wellknown theme.

It is also worthy to note that the literature supporting this contextualization frequently represents the possibility to awaken critical development. For, as stated by Nicolescu (2000, p. 150), it is a matter of “learning to know”: the critical sense used to analyze and understand the theme focuses on the responsibily on the part of society to examine and interiorize a context to then issue a position on it based on textual elements.

SAO PAULO, SP, BRAZIL, 03-04-2008, SOCIAL INEQUALITY – View of the Paraisopolis slum, in the south of Sao Paulo, with high standard buildings in the Morumbi neighborhood in the background. (Photo: Apu Gomes / OXFAM)

Thus, it is important to contextualize spacial segregation from the point of historicity, so that the historical moment in which it started becomes evident and with it the elements which perpetuated and intensified this social malaise.

To pinpoint the exact moment when spatial segregation among subjects with different economic conditions emerged is a very arduous task, as there is no concrete evidence to do so. We can however think of the beginning of Brazilian colonization as the historical event precursor of spatial segregation because, for a long time, the “moderzination” of the country went hand in hand with the mistreatement of Indians and Blacks. The Portuguese in fact considered them as mere objects with a social and cultural use and treated them consequently. Often, they were believed to be so inferior that they could not occupy the same physical space of the Portuguese.

Places where this kind of spacial division occurred were the colonizers’ house, slaves quarters and other social places such as port administrations. This dynamic reflects how segregation based on economic and/or ethnic factors influences the impossibility of rising and occupying spaces – physical and social.

Despite the historical distance between the period of colonization with its social barriers and the present century, it is clear that the spatial segregation did not end: it underwent a modification stemmed from the globalization process.

In practical terms, the form of spatial segregation “has changed” in nowadays society. Instead of instead of colonizers, we now have people of great economic purchasing power and government policies – both impeding social equality. In the role of Indians and slaves, we have people from the low-middle class who suffer from a high degree of economic vulnerability.

When taking into account the issue from an historical point of view, the social context in which segregation happened and by which it was perpetuated has undergone changes: theoretically, Article 5 of the 1988 Federal Constitution rules that everyone should be treated equally, without any social or economic distinction.

Rocinha favela and Zona Sul in Rio de Janeiro – matteo0702 / Flickr

However, there is scarse interest in the debated on the public policies that could solve a problem which plagues Brazilian society and, consequently, slows down social progress and sustainable development.

For example, favelas are home to large populations concentrated in overcrowded locations which were not born out of urban planning policies – a scenario which fosters countless Human rights violations while calling for security and social welfare policies.

The precarious physical structure of the houses where over 60% of the Brazilian population lives undoubtedly reveals the emergence of critical thinking, the inequality of the possibility of social equality, which reveals to be not only a general matter but also and specifically a matter of spacial segregation when time passes and the elements of the question are properly outlined.

Understanding the history and mechanisms of social inequality is fundamental for the development of critical thinking as an agent of integration and social mobilization for the advancement of public policies against spatial segregation.

Moreover, the extension of the concept of spatial segregation allows to enter and raise several debates on the most various types of segregation, such as social segregation in the aspect of political occupation and spatial segregation in detriment to the construction of Brazilian history.

Therefore, the introduction of this theme is thought of as a tool of social provocation to understand the mechanisms of inequality and to promote critical thinking in order to encourage the community to reflect and debate on the subject, to instigate and to question spatial segregation and to be part of the solution of the problem.

Do you want to know more about critical thinking and your rights?

Consult the Brazilian Federal Constitution and the work of Nicolescu, Educação e Transdisciplinaridade (2000).

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