Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2019


This research project seeks to better understand how protests of varying sizes take place in public spaces, focusing on the city of Rio de Janeiro. The relationship between cities and protests has increasingly gained importance as urban areas throughout the world become epicenters for demanding greater political rights and expanded notions of citizenship (Harvey, 2003) (Vicino, 2017). Understanding the dynamics of protest in Rio de Janeiro is particularly important as the city struggles to overcome a financial crisis following nearly a decade of hosting international mega-events including the 2016 Olympics. Unstable funding has led to a public security crisis as the city grapples with a surge in criminal violence and a national corruption scandal. The combination of these problems has placed enormous pressure on civil society to stand up against injustice and communicate demands from the most underrepresented sectors of society. Protests are an essential tool of civil society, but their effectiveness often depends on the ability to access and move through urban spaces. Using qualitative data from interviews with activists and the distribution of an online survey, I evaluate how space matters for protests in Rio. This paper explores the different strategies used to perform protests in public spaces, overcome spatial challenges or restrictions, and communicate messages of dissent.



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Renia Ehrenfeucht

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Tucker

Third Committee Member

Cassy Dorff


Brazil, Urban Planning, Social Movements, Rio de Janeiro, Protests, Public Space