Teresa Caldeira on Urban Practices and Ethnographic Intimacy

In this episode, AnthroPod brings you a discussion about urban ethnography with Teresa Caldeira, Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Caldeira has conducted extensive research on violence and processes of urbanization in the global South. More recently, she has been examining a range of urban practices and forms of cultural production from the peripheries of São Paulo that are reshaping public space, including rap music, graffiti, ostentation funk, and pixação (a Portuguese word for tagging done in a cryptic style, often in high, dangerous, and noteworthy places).

Last summer, AnthroPod had the chance to join Caldeira on a visit to a local church in Jardim das Camélias, a neighborhood that she has been studying since the 1970s. This episode is an edited version of the conversation that followed that visit, in which contributing editor Liliana Gil and Caldeira discussed the latter’s most recent work, as well as her experiences in the field. The discussion includes reflections on the difference between studying the same neighborhood for decades and starting new research in a different social and economic moment. It also touches on the limits of experience and intimacy as bases for anthropological knowledge.

Further Reading


Liliana Gil produced this episode of AnthroPod. Special thanks to Executive Producer Katherine Sacco for valuable feedback, and to Ricardo Cardoso and Mariana García Arias for assistance in recording and editing this episode.

AnthroPod features interviews with current anthropologists about their work, current events, and their experiences in the field. You can find AnthroPod at SoundCloud, subscribe to it on iTunes, or use our RSS feed. If you have suggestions for future episodes or feedback on this episode, please leave us a comment to the right, or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

This episode features excerpts from “Soldado Sem Bandeira” by Emicida (00:00, 08:20), “Fim de Semana no Parque” by Racionais MC’s (06:25), a birthday song recorded at the Jardim das Camélias’s Parish Church (14:05), and “Se Identifica” by A’s Trinca (17:20, 23:05). Thanks to the artists for granting permission to use these excerpts in the episode.