Dr Felipe Rangel Martins

The regulation of informal urban markets in Brazil: historical aspects and exclusionary formalization

Funding period: 26 May 2022 – 26 December 2022
Type of funding: International Fellowship

Felipe Rangel is a researcher attached to the Institute of Architecture and Urbanism (IAU), University of São Paulo (USP). He holds a PhD in Sociology from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), with research internships at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths, University of London, and at the Laboratoire interdisciplinaire pour la sociologie économique – CNAM. His research lies at the interface between the fields of sociology of work and urban studies. Through qualitative research, he has been studying the changes in the management strategies of the informal urban markets in Brazil and the work in these spaces. His most recent publications explore the contemporary work experiences in urban popular commerce in São Paulo and analyze the new public and private interventions on these markets.

As a USF International Fellow, Felipe Rangel will spend seven months working with Professor Brodwyn Fischer at the University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies.

Profile at ResearchGate.net | Profile at lattes.cnpq.br | feliperangelm@gmail.com

As part of his USF Fellowship, Dr Rangel Martins also received a USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award in November 2021 (see below).

USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award: Memories of an urban market in dispute

This project aims to recover the formation and development process of one of the largest informal urban markets in Brazil and Latin America, the Feira da Madrugada (which means “dawn fair”) in São Paulo, through the memory of its workers. We will seek to shed light on the invisible struggles of men and women who, trying to making a living, produced the urban, commercial and real estate value of a space that today attracts large investments. The proposal acquires greater social importance precisely at the present time, when many of these workers have been facing a process of gentrification of this market. After gaining notoriety and value through informal commercial activities, the Feira da Madrugada attracted the attention of the state and private investors, leading to projects of “modernization” that make it impossible for the poorest sellers to remain, considering the rising costs of privatized commercial spaces.

Considering the academic and historical importance, and the social impact of recording and publicizing the memory of the struggles for the construction of this space, the proposal is to record and disseminate the history of the Feira da Madrugada through a podcast in which we will narrate, in dialogue with the voices of workers, the main moments that marked from the occupation of abandoned streets during the night, the conflicts with the government and other social sectors, to the stabilization of this market and the contemporary process of gentrification. Along with the podcast, a website will be created that will also feature photographs, maps, texts, documents, as well as personal files provided by traders, resisting the erasure of memory by modernization projects.

The project is based on the results of my doctoral research, conducted between 2015 and 2019 on the popular commerce of downtown São Paulo, where Feira da Madrugada is located. I followed the workers’ daily lives and analyzed the modernization processes of this market, which allowed me to register the exclusionary formalization promoted by the entrepreneurial management of popular commerce.