Teresa Caldeira

Teresa Caldeira

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: Architecture, Planning and Design

Competition: US & Canada

Teresa P. R. Caldeira is a scholar of cities and their political practices. Her research focuses on predicaments of urbanization and reconfigurations of spatial segregation and social discrimination, mostly in cities of the global south.  She has been especially interested in studying the relationships between urban form and political transformation, particularly in the context of democratization. An anthropologist by training, she has been a full professor at the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2007. She has always worked in an interdisciplinary manner, combining methodologies, theories, and approaches from the different social sciences, but she has been especially interested in reshaping ethnographic methods for the study of cities and political action.  Although a growing number of anthropologists do research in cities, few constitute the city itself as an object of anthropological investigation.  Her work aims at asserting the richness of this perspective, exemplified in the book City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo (University of California Press, 2000), which won the Senior Book Prize from the American Ethnological Society in 2001.

Teresa Caldeira’s Guggenheim Fellowship project analyzes a diverse range of public practices that are transforming the city of São Paulo and its public spaces and that articulate anew the profound social inequalities that have always marked the city. Over the last decade, Caldeira has undertaken ethnographic research to map these practices, including graffiti, pixação (tagging), rap, skateboarding, parkour, and motorcycling.  She now proposes to summarize her findings in a book about the character of the public spaces and interactions that they create.  She argues that these practices, articulated as both artistic production and urban performance, not only give the subaltern new visibility but also express new forms of political action that are contradictory: They affirm rights to the city while fracturing the public with aggressiveness and transgression; they expose discrimination but refuse integration. Thus, they require new conceptualizations of democratic public space and of the role of citizens in producing the city, which the book will develop.

Teresa Caldeira was educated at the University of São Paulo (B.A. in Social Sciences and M.A in Political Science) and at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. in Anthropology).  She worked as a professor and researcher in the Brazilian university system between 1980 and 1996. She was a researcher at Cebrap (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning), one of Brazil’s most important research centers in the social sciences, for fifteen years.  She was also a professor at the Department of Anthropology of Unicamp, between 1988 and 1996, when she joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.  She became a member of the UC Berkeley faculty in 2007. Her work is published in several languages.

Profile photograph by Olivia Holston.


Scroll to Top