Francisco Capuano Scarlato

Image: Kaique Rocha


The city of São Paulo honors the USP professor

The City Council of the city of São Paulo honors Professor Francisco Capuano Scarlato today, December 8, at the Milton Santos auditorium, in the History and Geography building, in the University City of USP. At the ceremony, at 14 pm, he will be awarded the Anchieta Medal and the Diploma of Gratitude. The ceremony can be seen at Youtube channel from the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP.

Francisco Capuano Scarlato was born in the Bixiga neighborhood, in 1939. Passionate about the city of São Paulo, he devoted himself to studying the metropolis. He graduated in geography (1968) and history (1973), with a master's and doctorate from the human geography program at FFLCH-USP, with the thesis The real imaginary in the Bixiga neighborhood: autophagy and urban renewal, defended in 1988. He was an adviser to the Ministry of Education and the city of São Paulo, in addition to organizations that promote academic research.

Among his favorite topics are urban and regional geography, and cities as cultural heritage. He is currently a senior professor in the Department of Geography at FFLCH, working in postgraduate studies.

The academic activities of Francisco Capuano Scarlato have a national and international dimension. He has supervised dozens of master's and doctoral students and has a vast published bibliography. In addition, he was always present in the fights for a public university, democratic, secular and committed to the best causes of the Brazilian people.

Recognition by the City Council of São Paulo of his work as a whole highlights the importance of scientific research and research in the areas of humanities carried out at the University of São Paulo, enabling a better understanding of reality and helping to build alternatives for a more democratic society, more fair and less unequal.

One of his favorite activities is walking down Avenida Paulista, evoking its history and the “silence that there was”, according to his testimony to the Museu da Pessoa, when he was 70 years old, in 2009. He remembers that, as a child, he only heard the Italian language in the neighborhood.

For him, “Avenida Paulista was always a watershed between two São Paulo: the old one, which stretched from Bixiga to the center, and the new one, which went down the slopes to Jardins, towards Vale dos Pinheiros. And it always had, Avenida Paulista, a symbolic landmark of having been representative, let's say, of power, of nobility”.

He continues in his testimony: “the nobility and economic power. It started as the headquarters of the aristocracy, with the big mansions, which were later demolished to install the banks”. He recognizes that during the 1950s, “the old Center became sclerotic”, thanks to the “new dynamism of a city that was industrializing, becoming, in fact, the city of coffee, the city of industry, having to look for a new center, to carry out the financial functions”.

Francisco Capuano Scarlato highlights having studied “the metamorphosis that the automobile brought to the city of São Paulo” in a process that ended up devouring the Bixiga neighborhood, “absorbed by this dynamism of modernization, and the Italianness and Italianness of Bixiga went into the air ”…

We now recall a singular episode in the career of Francisco Capuano Scarlato. At the end of 2005, professor Flavio Aguiar received a group of German university students at USP, organizing a series of activities for them. Among them, he gave them a tour of downtown São Paulo, led by Professor Scarlato. The walk began on Avenida Paulista, continued along Bela Vista/Bixiga, arriving at Centrão.

After passing Viaduto do Chá, the group entered Rua São Bento, stopping in front of the Martinelli building, considered the first skyscraper in Brazil, with its modest 28 floors and 106 meters in height. Francisco Capuano Scarlato was talking about the historic building when, in the midst of the crowd that occupied the street, the warning cry was heard: “Olha o rapa” announcing the arrival of city hall inspectors who usually seize merchandise from street vendors without a license. A group of them collected the blankets and sheets where they displayed their wares and joined the group of students, as if they were part of it.

Unperturbed, Francisco Capuano Scarlato continued his speech, also addressing the newly incorporated disciples, as if they had been there forever. And what happened? After the “rapa” passed, the new arrivals, very interested, continued to pay attention to the open-air classroom overlooking the city center, momentarily suspending their commercial activity…

This was not, of course, an apology for illegal trade, but a gesture of solidarity with those who needed help.

Well, as the German students were not understanding anything of what was going on, Francisco Capuano Scarlato, after the “newbies” left, had the opportunity to give one more explanation about certain characteristics of our Latin American metropolises… His friend Scarlato.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).

*José Clovis de M. Lima, technical-administrative employee of the board of FFLCH, graduated in philosophy from USP.

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