Linear Parks and the Political Ecologies of Permeability: Environmental displacement in São Paulo, Brazil


This article considers the politics of resettlement within ongoing efforts to construct the Tietê River Valley Park (Parque Várzeas do Tietê), a linear park that upon completion will be the largest linear park in the world. Located in the eastern periphery of São Paulo, Brazil, the proposed project uses riverbank naturalization to dampen floodpeaks and bring green space to underserved populations. Due to the presence of low‐income neighborhoods on the river’s edge, however, the project calls for the removal of roughly 40,000 people. Drawing from urban political ecology and contemporary concerns about environmentally induced displacement, I consider the conflicts over resettlement that mark the project. I analyze the project itself and situate it within a regional context defined by autoconstruction, regularized flooding, and insecure tenure. I argue that despite claims that the project will yield less risky lives for displaced residents, the form through which the project is being developed actually puts displaced residents in heightened situations of risk. I consider how communities have organized to resist displacement, and call for an approach to governance in peripheral landscapes that takes seriously the histories of collective infrastructural provisioning and autoconstructed housing that have marked them for decades.