Why Political Geography Matters

Last post I spoke about a few economic reasons why the citizen-government connection in Brazil needs strengthening. In this post I want to talk about geography. Cities that combine economic, cultural, and political centers, like Washington, London, Paris, among many others, tend to make for a charged political environment. Where this environment has remained mostly orderly, a virtuous political ecology often takes root. Cities attract active citizens who interact with their political environment in myriad ways. Politically vested citizens from across the country are drawn to these cities not only because of their political importance, but because of their historical, cultural, and economic vitality. Brasilia, on the other hand, is distant from any major population center, its history is brief (constructed in the 1950s), and it flunks as a cultural and economic center. Even Ottawa looks great in comparison. Most people who live in Brasilia work for government. One is left to ask, “who protests or marches in front of the legislature when outrageous corruption occurs?” “Where are the citizens who will witness such protests?” Although Brasilia’s architectural and urban design are interesting, the city lacks the political verve of other centers because it was designed to be the seat of government, rather than a cultural and economic hub. The political geography of Brazil’s capital conceals and in turn disconnects the political process and political citizenship from common Brazilians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *