In the city of São Paulo, Brazil, one middle class ethnic minority, Japanese Brazilians, is surprisingly visible in the citys unsecured public spaces. Their presence in these spaces is particularly surprising in light of the extensive scholarly discussion of the death of public space in urban centers throughout the world, and So Paulo specifically. Scholars have highlighted the retreat of middle- and upper classes into gated communities and fortified condominiums that keep them insulated from the poor living in urban slums and squatter settlements. This article focuses on one particular activitythe game of gateballand the cultural dynamics that make playing this game in public especially meaningful to elderly Japanese Brazilians. This case suggests some of the motivations for middle class residents to remain in public spaces despite prevalent discourses on crime and security. More broadly, it suggests that anthropologists account for spaces that are open or closed to varying degrees, and for the possibility that people often move between various types of spaces on a daily basis despite new forms of residential segregation.


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pp. 609-633
Launched on MUSE
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