Profil de recherche _ Francesca Pilo`

Francesca Pilo’ is F.R.S-FNRS post-doctoral researcher at the centre HABITER, at the faculty of Architecture of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Prior to joining the ULB, she held teaching and post-doctoral positions at the Université Marne-la-Valléé, the Université Paris Diderot and the University of Amsterdam (Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies and the Centre for Urban Studies). She holds a PhD in Urban Planning from the join supervision between Université Paris Est (LATTS) and the Universidade Federal Fluminense (CEDE), Brazil.


Research themes

  • Political infrastructure
  • Urban governance
  • Citizenship, right to the city, everyday practices
  • Informal urbanization
  • Materialist and socio-technical approaches
  • Brazil and Jamaica

Current research project (2019-2021)

In my current research project “The politics of electricity infrastructure: governance, technology and citizenship in Latin American and Caribbean cities”, I examine how the governance of infrastructure and citizenship change in urban neighbourhoods where sovereignty is contested. In cities of the South, precarious urban utilities (e.g. electricity and water) in low-income neighbourhoods often symbolizes a failing citizen-state relationship. However, heterogeneous non-state actors affect the way in which infrastructure in accessed and mediate this citizen-state-infrastructure relationship. Private companies often assume the role of providers and, at the same time, criminal actors (gangs and militias) can directly or indirectly control these infrastructures. Moreover, users’ cooperatives attempt to introduce environmentally sustainable solutions (e.g. solar panels). This project studies the hybrid governance of electricity infrastructure and its implications on citizenship formation. Focusing on Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Kingston (Jamaica), it will investigate (i) how non-state actors (private companies, criminals, users’ cooperatives) negotiate their legitimacy and redefine rights and responsibilities amongst citizens, focusing on technological and social arrangements; and 2) how citizens’ practices relating to these devices are linked to the negotiation of rights and responsibilities associated with political membership. Connecting science & technology studies to citizenship studies, it approaches infrastructure and its technology as mediating relations between citizens, the state and non-state actors and it extends understandings of citizenship including their non-state mediations.

Participation to collective research project

  • ERC SECURCIT program “Transforming citizenship through Hybrid Governance: the Impact of Public-Private Security Assemblages” (2014-2018), University of Amsterdam. PI: Rivke Jaffe. As post-doctoral researcher (since Jan. 2017)
  • DALVAA program “Rethinking the Right to the City from the Global South – Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America” (2014-2018), City of Paris grant, Université Paris Diderot. PI: M. Morange and A. Spire. As post-doctoral researcher (since March 2015)
  • TERMOS program “Energy Trajectories in the Metro-Regions of the South” (2010-2014). French Research Agency grant. Université Paris-Est. PI: S. Jaglin. As researcher (during the PhD). (2012-2013)

Publications profile:

Special issues

Jaffe R. and Pilo’ F. forthcoming, The Political Materiality of Cities, City & Society

Peer-review journals

Pilo’ F. and R. Jaffe, forthcoming, The Political Materiality of Cities: Introduction, City & Society

Pilo’ F., 2019, Material politics: utility documents, claims-making and construction of the ‘deserving citizen’ in Rio de Janeiro, Center for Urban Studies Working Papers series no. 35, University of Amsterdam

Morange M., Pilo’ F. and A. Spire, 2018, Experiencing Regularisation in Accra, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro: The Actual Right to the City, Neoliberalisation and Everyday Life, City, 1-18.

Pilo’ F., 2018, Rio de Janeiro, a city (unequally) connected? Electricity service and divisions of the urban space, Metropolitics, available online:

Pilo’ F., 2017, Les petits commerçants informels des favelas face à la régularisation électrique: entre tactiques, ajustements et inadaptations, Métropoles, 21, 24 p.

Pilo’ F., 2017, A socio-technical perspective to the right to the city: regularizing electricity access in Rio de Janeiro favelas, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41(3), 396-413.

Pilo’ F., 2017, Consumo de energia elétrica nas favelas e a transformação de consumidores em clientes [Electricity consumption in favelas, and the making consumers into customers], GEOgraphia, 18(38), 3-26. 

Pilo’ F., 2017, ‘Co-producing affordability’ to the electricity service: a market-oriented response to addressing inequality of access in Rio de Janeiro’s favela, Urban Research & Practice, 10(1), 86-101.

Pilo’ F., 2016, Rio de Janeiro, ville (inégalement) branchée? Service d’électricité et divisions de l’espace urbain [Rio de Janeiro, a city (unequally) connected? Electricity service and divisions of the urban space], Métropolitiques, available at:  

Pilo’ F., 2015, Le compteur d’électricité aux favelas: l’espace public entre normes et defiance [The electricity meter to the favelas: public space between norms and distrust], Revue Urbanités, 6, available at:

Book chapters

Pilo’ F., 2018, ‘Co-producing affordability’ to the electricity service: a market-oriented response to addressing inequality of access in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, in Moretto L. & Ranzato M. (dirs.) Coproducing Water, Energy and Waste Services. Routledge: 86-101.

Gonçalves Soares R. and Pilo’ F., 2017, “From Favela to Comunidade, and beyond. The taming of Rio de Janeiro”, in Harris R. & Vorms C. (dirs) What’s in a name? How we label peripheral places. Toronto University Press: 173-191.

Pilo’ F., 2016, “Rio de Janeiro: Regularising energy consumption in favelas through reshaping consumers into customers”, in Luque A. & Silver J. (dirs) Energy, Power and Protest on the Urban Grid.Geographies of the Electric City. London: Ashgate: 67-85.

Pilo’ F., 2015, “La régularisation du service d’électricité dans les favelas « pacifiées » de Rio de Janeiro: un outil de construction du « consommateur responsable »?” in Zélem M-C. and Beslay C. (dirs) Sociologie de l’énergie. Gouvernance et pratiques sociales. CNRS Editions: 97-103

Conference proceedings

Cohen C., Alcantara D., Furtado L., and Pilo’ F., 2010, “Análise do consumo de energia elétrica através do perfil de uso e posse de equipamentos em comunidades de baixo poder aquisitivo do Rio de Janeiro”, [Analysis of electricity consumption patterns through the use and equipment in low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro], XIII Brazilian Electricity Congress – Quality of living, 7th November, Rio de Janeiro


2016 “Droit à la ville de fait” et service d’électricité dans les peripheries de Lomé, billet de “retour de terrain” [Actual right to the city and electricity service in the peripheries of Lomé], blog post DALVAA program, August, available at:

2016 TV interview on the regularization of electricity access in favelas (in Portuguese), TV of the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC), November, available at:

2015 Regularização do fornecimento de energia X integração das favelas no Rio, [Regularisation of electricity service X integration of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas], interview on my PhD dissertation for the Observatorio das Métropoles (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), available at:


  • Italian: native
  • English: advanced
  • French: advanced
  • Portuguese: advanced
  • Spanish: Intermediate
  • Dutch: Absolute beginner
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