Slum growth has outpaced urbanization in the global south and slums in inner cities are expanding at a higher rate than suburban expansion.[1] For example, São Paulo’s favelas were a mere 1.2 percent of the city’s total population in 1973, but 19.8 percent in 1993 and grew at an explosive rate of 16.4 percent annually during the 1990s. By 2015 Sub Saharan Africa will have 332 million slum-dwellers, a number that will continue to double every 15 years.[2] The evidence of abject poverty is manifested in the production of these informal settlements and their constant expansion. The increase in the growth of slums highlights a push of people into cities and a clear need of the poor to be closer to sources of income and economic opportunities. Within the context of development, race and class, my Independent Study Project is a comparative analysis of informal settlements in Brazil and South Africa. Brazil and South Africa are among the fastest growing economies in the global south, and are members of BRICS - an association of five emerging world economies. My aim is to understand the present using a historical examination of how these informal settlements came to be “produced” as a result of what I have identified as themes of historical division and contemporary exclusion. I have chosen two cities in Brazil and South Africa for my research: Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. I examine interventionist approaches with regards to the informal settlements in these cities, and how reformation and renewal policies have impacted them. My conclusions are that state policy in Brazil and South Africa has continued to directly affect the growth and expansion of informal settlement, within the context of race, class and poverty.

[1] Mike Davis, Planet of Slums, Reprint edition (London ; New York: Verso, 2007).22

[2] Ibid.25


Holt, Katie




African History | Labor History | Latin American History | Political History | Social History


Slum, Favela, Townships, South Africa, Brazil, Apartheid, Urbanization, Urban segregation, Racial segregation, Poverty, Racism, Inequality, Social Movements.

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Ngozi Monica Cole