A billion people, roughly half of all city dwellers in the developing world, live in squatter settlements. The most famous of these settlements are the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, which have existed for more than half a century and continue to outpace the rest of the city in growth. Janice Perlman's award-winning The Myth of Marginality was the first in-depth account of life in the favelas, and it is considered one of the most important books in global urban studies in the last 30 years. Now, in Favela, Perlman carries that story forward to the present. Re-interviewing many longtime favela residents whom she had first met in 1969-as well as their children and grandchildren-Perlman offers the only long-term perspective available on the favelados as they struggle for a better life. Perlman discovers that much has changed in three decades, but while educational levels have risen, democracy has replaced dictatorship, and material conditions have improved, many residents feel marginalized more than ever. The greatest change is the explosion of drug and arms trade and the high incidence of fatal violence that has resulted.
Almost one in five people report that a member of their family has been a victim of homicide. Yet the greatest challenge of all is job creation-decent work for decent pay. If unemployment and under-paid employment are not addressed, she argues, all other efforts-from housing to policing to community development-will fail to resolve the fundamental issues. A revealing study of the giant slums of Rio de Janeiro and of the vibrant communities of migrants who have risked everything to come to the city to provide more opportunities for their children, this book yields insights that apply to the entire global South, from Mexico City to Cairo, and from Mumbai to Lagos. Favela offers a powerful, long-term look at one of the great challenges facing the modern world-perhaps the major challenge of the twenty-first century.