Abstract

In Brazil and throughout the African diaspora, rarely are black women, especially poor black women, considered leaders of social movements, much less political theorists. While Afro-Brazilian women are at the very heart of the struggle for urban housing and land rights in Salvador, the prevailing image of black women, particularly those who live in poor neighborhoods, is that they lack the knowledge and political sophistication needed to organize mass social movements. This article seeks to undermine this image by exploring how black women have come to radicalize local communities. It also explores why they are the main political actors interpreting the racial, gender, and class dynamics of urban development policies and fighting to reform projects of socio-spatial inclusion in cities. Bridging the scholarly gap between black feminist theorization and the grassroots practice of intersectionality, I argue that black women who organize as blacks, women, and poor people provide key insights into how intersectionality is mobilized for social and poltical change. Furthemore, the ethnographic focus on black women's activism illustrates the ways in which grassroots politics have advanced our understanding of intersectional identity formation in relationship to the material interests of the marginalized communities in Brazil.

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