This article engages with the trajectory of urban participation in Recife, Brazil, from its start as a governance system aimed at ensuring the right of the poor to the city, to the introduction by the Workers' Party of participatory budgeting. I argue that participation is used by the state in order to include populations within governmental structures while the poor struggle for the right to belong to the city. Drawing on Alain Badiou's ontology of multiplicity I contend that the urban situation is grounded in inconsistency, as manifested in the existence of a category of people who "sit at the edge of the void", that neither is included nor belongs. I conclude that the popular mobilizations in Recife in the 1980s constituted a true emancipatory event that exposed the divisions of the city, the existence of a fundamental wrong, and that proclaimed the right of the excluded to the city.
- Liberation theology
- Participatory planning