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8605 - Rio de Janeiro, inundated city ¿ an urban environmental history

As the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, and an important site for the World Cup 2014, Rio de Janeiro is well established in the world’s major international events circuit. And yet, it still suffers from periodic and disruptive floods. In April 2010, the Maracanã Stadium, a key venue in both above mentioned events, was completely flooded, its lawn and facilities inundated by rainwater. This contrast between the celebrated city and the flood-prone city is not new in Rio de Janeiro. Flooding was familiar to city residents in the nineteenth century, and it has increased in intensity and frequency over the 20th century, including the 1960's two traumatic floods. Urban floods highlighted the fragility of public administration, social conflicts, the fragility of urban reforms and the ecological impact of rapid urbanization. Access to transport, to food, to clean water, protection from epidemics or simply from chaos: these and other ordinary demands of the population multiplied, showing the continuous negotiation between the State and the public about the role of the State, the occupation of space and the control the landscape.

The paper studies how the mainstream media Rio documented these "natural" disasters in the urban environment, as well as the development of the relationship between the city (state and civil society) and nature in Rio de Janeiro. As part of a larger project, in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Casa Nova, this study suggests a comparative perspective with focus on Buenos Aires, as the Argentinean city shared in the 20th century similar features, such as large scale urban reforms, accelerated urbanization processes and devastating and frequent floods.

Keywords: Environmental history, urban history, Latin American cities, natural disasters

Author: Sedrez, Lise (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brasilien)
Co-Author: Andrea Casa Nova Maia (UFRJ -Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brasilien)

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