‘Toward Popular Environmental Education in Marginalized Watershed Communities: The Case Study of São Paulo.’
de Simone, Claudia
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It is rare to find a critical discussion of race in literature about Brazilian urban environmental degradation and water pollution. Most of the literature discusses what to do with the “problem” of the periphery neighbourhoods – called favelas – whose residents are often represented as polluters of the rivers near to which they live and as occupiers of ‘environmentally risky’ territory. In Brazil, it is common to encounter environmental education projects that incorporate a debate on economic inequalities and environment, but without mention of colonialism or race subjection. Using the case study of São Paulo, this paper shows how racism has been historically spatialized through the material production of the favela, as well as through its discursive production in mainstream media and literature. That environmental injustices taking place in racialized communities are officially accepted makes it crucial to problematize this hegemonic violence in educational spaces. I argue for the discussion of race, interconnected with class and gender, in environmental education. Paulo Freire’s principles of a pedagogy of the oppressed are critical to a discussion about the meaning of an anti-colonial pedagogy and thus, of the practice of anti-colonial environmental education.