The Invisible Displaced: A Unified Conceptualization of Population Displacement in Brazil

Journal of Refugee Studies – Jan 2015

In spite of astonishingly high rates of violence, massive public works projects, and repeated natural disasters, surprisingly little is known about the scope and scale of displacement in Brazil. There is a silence in both discourse and practice. The true magnitude of Brazil’s multiple and interlocking displacement crises is still largely invisible.

Part of the challenge is that understandings and responses to displacement continue to be segmented, divided between different public entities, non-governmental agencies and advocacy groups. In order to overcome this state of affairs, the article introduces a basic typology to conceptualize various types of internal displacement in the country, highlighting the intersections between them.

Drawing on a review of the literature and empirical research in selected Brazilian cities, the author shows how an underlying characteristic of forced migration in Brazil is vulnerability and resilience. The article finds that the dynamics of displacement in Brazil are similar to other middle- and lower-income settings affected by comparatively high rates of insecurity and socio-economic transformation. It also demonstrates the many opportunities to engage more proactively with preventing and minimizing displacement in Brazil, especially through a human rights paradigm.


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