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The Street Is Ours

Book description

The streets of Rio de Janeiro have long been characterized as exuberant and exotic places for social commerce, political expression, and the production and dissemination of culture. The Street is Ours examines the changing uses and meanings of Rio de Janeiro's streets and argues that the automobile, by literally occupying much of the street's space and by introducing death and injury on a new scale, significantly transformed the public commons. Once viewed as a natural resource and a place of equitable access, deep meaning, and diverse functions, the street has changed into a space of exclusion that prioritizes automotive movement. Taking an environmental approach, Shawn William Miller surveys the costs and failures of this spatial transformation and demonstrates how Rio's citizens have resisted the automobile's intrusions and, in some cases, even reversed the long trend of closing the street against its potential utilities.


'With touches of the finest conventions of writing about Brazilian cities and their denizens, this is a study of the streets of downtown Rio de Janeiro as experienced by people, animals, and machines. Alongside his history of street paving and street beautification, Miller describes the 'invention' of pedestrian and motorist. Attentive to the entwined histories of danger and thrill in the Marvelous City, The Street is Ours is a fascinating examination of the most commonplace of all urban settings - the street - as a contested, lively public good often turned over to, but never fully dominated by, the private needs of the automobile.'

Daryle Williams - co-editor of The Rio de Janeiro Reader: History, Culture, Politics

'By analyzing the street as a 'natural resource', one surprisingly resistant to privatization and depletion, this book skillfully blends urban, social, and environmental history. Miller shows the various ways Cariocas have used their streets and how this resource has been transformed by the physical presence and violent motion of the automobile. Richly detailed and elegantly provocative, Miller invites us to experience the city of the past with all our senses.'

Emily Wakild - author of Revolutionary Parks: Conservation, Social Justice, and Mexico's National Parks, 1910–1940

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