Architectures of Hope: Infrastructural Citizenship and Class Mobility in Brazil’s Public Housing

Moisés Kopper

December 01, 2022

MPIfG Book


Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2022
362 pages
ISBN 978-0-472-07564-5 (hardback)
ISBN 978-0-472-05564-7 (paperback)

Also available as an ebook.

» Publisher’s page


Architectures of Hope examines how communal idealism, electoral politics, and low-income consumer markets made first-time homeownership a reality for millions of low-income Brazilians over the last ten years.

Drawing on a five-year-long ethnography among city planners, architects, street-level bureaucrats, politicians, market and bank representatives, community leaders, and past, present, and future beneficiaries, Moisés Kopper tells the story of how a group of grassroots housing activists rose from oblivion to build a model community. He explores the strategies set forth by housing activists as they waited and hoped for – and eventually secured – homeownership through Minha Casa Minha Vida’s public-private infrastructure. By showing how these efforts coalesced in Porto Alegre – Brazil’s once progressive hotspot – he interrogates the value systems and novel arrangements of power and market that underlie the country’s post-neoliberal project of modern and inclusive development.

By chronicling the making and remaking of material hope in the aftermath of Minha Casa Minha Vida, Architectures of Hope reopens the future as a powerful venue for ethnographic inquiry and urban development.


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments


Part I: Introduction

The Subjunctivity of Hope

Hoping for the Future


Part II: Infrastructural Citizenship

Chapter 1. The Making of a Model Community

Chapter 2. The Machine of Worthiness

Chapter 3. Waiting and Hoping

Chapter 4. Cartographies of Well-being


Part III: Middle-Class Sensorial

Chapter 5. Topographies of Consumption

Chapter 6. Democracies of Hope

Chapter 7. Infrastructuring Class

Conclusion: Post-neoliberal Hopescapes






Moisés Kopper

Moisés Kopper is a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains. From 2017 to 2019, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany.


Architectures of Hope is a powerful statement on how inclusive social policies can transform a community by creating hope and agency that are backed up by public investments. Moisés Kopper presents a deeply insightful ethnography which documents the changes in an urban community mobilized by ‘material hope’ and the development of a new sense of belonging.”
Jens Beckert, Director, Max Planck Institute of Societies

“With nuanced ethnographic description and incisive analysis, Kopper takes us inside a public housing project in Porto Alegre, Brazil, showing the complicated ways the personal and the structural are intertwined. The result is an exciting new perspective on the social and affective pull of hope, the political-economy of precarity, and the ways these intersect with state-sponsored infrastructure development.”
Edward F. Fischer, author of The Good Life: Aspiration, Dignity, and the Anthropology of Wellbeing

Architectures of Hope brings to life the demographic transformations that took place during the PT years, using evocative ethnography and anthropological analysis to uncover the meanings and subjectivities associated with participation in the signature housing initiative, Minha Casa, Minha Vida. Kopper’s account sheds important new light on what poverty-reduction initiatives look like from the ground up, simultaneously hopeful and contradictory.”
Benjamin Junge, State University of New York at New Paltz

“Kopper gives us a remarkable ethnography that connects the personal lives of the urban poor with the political processes that transformed contemporary Brazil. Architectures of Hope shows the skill of an ethnographer able to innovate conceptually to illuminate in a vivid way how politics and the market transformed the daily lives of the most marginalized in one of the most unequal countries in the world.”
Ariel Wilkis, Escuela IDAES-Universidad de San Martín, and author of The Moral Power of Money

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