The Amerikas Colloquium
Dr. Tilmann Heil (Universität zu Köln):
Assembling Social Hierarchies. Newcomers’ Urban Journeys in Rio de Janeiro
In this paper, I ask whether and how the assembling of social hierarchies in the everyday of urban newcomers can be conceptualised. In my ethnographic work with Senegalese and Spanish in Rio de Janeiro since 2014, I have been interested in the unexpected and multiple stories and materialities of the city as they unfold upon arrival. Assemblage thinking – the meshing together of urban components so that they work well together– has an edge over other approaches to account for a multiplicity of urban worlds in the making. At the same time, assemblages have been critiqued for being overly horizontal, unable to capture inequality and hierarchy. Inequality and hierarchy, however, are constitutive of Rio de Janeiro as is the case for most contemporary urban configurations. In Rio de Janeiro, newcomers continuously evaluate multiple and intersecting differences in countless and often ambiguous ways. Newcomers perceive, question, position themselves in relation to, and re-assemble urban hierarchies in known and new ways. These sensory, reflexive, and material constitutions of valued difference are crucial to the worlds that unfold in an unequal city. I will ground this productive conceptual tension in selected vignettes of the fragmented urban trajectories of newcomers in Rio de Janeiro that compose my emerging ethnography. I invite the seminar participants to joining my quest of how to best comprehend such an assembling of social hierarchies through concepts that may travel to facilitate comparison.
When? Thursday, 4 November 2021, 18:15
Where? Room L 155, Oettingenstr. 67, 80538 Munich
Zoom-Meeting. Get the Link by writing an email to
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