Dr Telma Hoyler

Political representation in the city

Funding period: 1 April 2023 – 1 December 2023
Type of funding: International Fellowship

Telma Hoyler is a researcher in the Center for Metropolitan Studies in São Paulo and collaborates with the Global Network on Parliaments and People. She is a political sociologist interested in understanding how representatives connect to constituencies in southern urban contexts and in challenging the often-automatic characterization of cities in the Global South as clientelist. This was also the topic of her PhD, a three-year ethnography research with councilors and brokers in São Paulo.

Prior to her current position, she worked as an advisor in São Paulo´s City Hall (2014-2017). Her PhD in Political Science was obtained from University of São Paulo with a visiting period in CEE/ Sciences Po (2019-2020).

As a USF International Fellow, Dr Hoyler will work at the Bartlett School of Planning under the mentorship of Prof. Claire Colomb.

Profile | telmahoyler@gmail.com

As part of her USF Fellowship, Dr Hoyler also received a USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award in April 2024 (see below).

USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award: Democracy on the Ground

Democracy on the Ground is a project to create a short ethnographic documentary film about how people living in the city’s peripheries engage with democracy and elections in São Paulo, Brazil (municipal elections in Brazil will occur in November 2024).

Throughout the film, a team composed of Dr Hoyler and Ricardo Moura will follow the electoral campaign of Geraldo, a left-wing candidate for São Paulo´s City Council. For several years, Geraldo has worked as a political broker—mobilising support for senior politicians—but now wants to make a move to be elected himself. The film will explore how the broker/now candidate mobilises his relational network and expands it within the city, aiming to win the election. While doing so, he builds his own political space.

The proposal is based on the point of view of marginalised communities. Not through or without them. It is an ethnographic film because its point of gravity comes from what people we learn with experience as important to them in a dialectical relationship. Sites for shooting are mainly in the peripheries of the city of São Paulo, where brokerage structures help bridge the State to people and deliver public policies. A documentary is an exciting medium to bring up such discussions. If, for example, the camera is employed as an analytical tool, making certain subjects and objects opaque or inaccessible while highlighting others, we are driven to question how knowledge is produced and faced with the power of seeing and unseeing.

In a world where democratic disenchantment is increasing, Democracy on the Ground will communicate the value of democracy as a place where encounters and conflicts can happen while respecting differences.