Marcelo Lopes de Souza

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Marcelo Lopes de Souza is a professor at the Department of Geography of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro. He founded and coordinates a research group whose main focus is the relationships between social relations and space and particularly the spatiality of social change[1] called The Center of Research on Socio-Spatial Development (Núcleo de Pesquisas sobre Desenvolvimento Sócio-Espacial/NuPeD).[2]

Intellectual Contribution[edit]

He pioneered the study of spatiality and social production of space from an 'autonomist' perspective (mainly inspired by Cornelius Castoriadis’s political-philosophical work) as early as in the 1980s. Marcelo Lopes de Souza regards himself as a 'libertário' (left-libertarian). From his viewpoint, the libertarian thought and praxis encompasses not only anarchism (or, as he prefers, 'classical anarchism') - from the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century - and neo-anarchism - from the second half of the 20th century onwards (for instance, Murray Bookchin) -, but also 'autonomist' thinkers (such as Cornelius Castoriadis) and movements (such as Mexican Zapatistas, a large part of Argentine 'piqueteros,' and so on).

His research projects cover themes such as: the socio-spatial impacts of drug trafficking in Brazilian cities; urban violence and the ‘militarization of the urban question’ in different countries; potentialities, limits and problems of ‘participative urban planning and management’; and the spatial practices of emancipative social movements in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa.


He studied geography and urban sociology in Brazil in the 1980s, and received his PhD degree in geography (Nebenfach [minor]: political science) from the University of Tübingen (Germany) in 1993.


He acted as a visiting researcher at the Geography Department of the University of Tübingen (1996 and 2000/2001) and at the Geography Department of the Royal Holloway College, University of London (1999), as well as a visiting professor at the Habitat Unit of the Technical University of Berlin (2005), at the Graduate Program on Latin American Studies of the Universidad Autónoma de México/UNAM (2008) at the Facultad de Geografía of the Universidad Autónoma de México/UNAM (2012) and at the Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt [Oder] (2009-2010).

He received the first prize of the German Society of Research on Latin America/ADLAF in 1994 for his PhD thesis (which was published in Germany) about the urban question in Brazil, and the Jabuti Award (this prize is given every year to Brazil’s best literary and scientific works by the Brazilian Book Chamber) for his book O desafio metropolitano (The Metropolitan Challenge) in 2001. His book Fobópole: O medo generalizado e a militarização da questão urbana (Phobopolis: Generalized Fear and the Militarization of the Urban Question), published in 2008, was nominated for the Jabuti Award in 2009.


Marcelo Lopes de Souza has published nine books and more than 100 articles and book chapters in different languages (Portuguese, English, German and Spanish) covering spatial theory, popular participation in urban planning, social movements theory (focusing especially the spatial dimension of urban social movements dynamic), urban ‘utopias’/alternative visions, urban problems, and the ‘spatiality of libertarian thought’ (classical anarchism, neo-anarchism, autonomism). His books include, besides the ones previously mentioned, Mudar a cidade (Changing the City, 2002, 6th edition 2010) and A prisão e a ágora (The Prison and the Agora, 2006), among others.

He is one of the editors of the prestigious Brazilian urban studies journal Cidades, and is associate editor of the international journal City (published by Routledge) as well. He belongs to the Advisory Board of Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography (published by Wiley-Blackwell).


Marcelo Lopes de Souza has collaborated with urban social movements organizations since the 1980s. Currently, he and his research team co-operate especially with different organizations of Brazil's sem-teto movement (‘roofless’ workers’ movement, urban counterpart to the better-known landless workers’ movement) in different ways, from ‘recherche-action’ to the training of activists (in the framework of study groups and political seminars) to the organization of public events.


  • 1996 – Urbanização e desenvolvimento no Brasil atual. São Paulo: Ática.
  • 2000 – O desafio metropolitano. A problemática sócio-espacial nas metrópoles brasileiras. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil. (2nd ed.: 2005)
  • 2002 – Mudar a cidade. Uma introdução crítica ao planejamento e à gestão urbanos. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil. (2nd ed.: 2003; 3rd ed.: 2004; 4th ed.: 2006; 5th ed.: 2008)
  • 2003 – ABC do desenvolvimento urbano. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil. (2nd ed.: 2005; 3rd ed:: 2007; 4th ed.: 2008)
  • 2004 – Planejamento urbano e ativismos sociais (em co-autoria com Glauco B. Rodrigues). São Paulo: Editora UNESP.
  • 2006 – A prisão e a ágora. Reflexões sobre a democratização do planejamento e da gestão das cidades. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil.
  • 2008 – Fobópole. O medo generalizado e a militarização da questão urbana. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil.