International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Construction of Socio-Political and Symbolical Marginalization in Brazil: Reflecting the Relation between Socio-Spatial Stigma and Responses to Violence in Rio de Janeiro
Fernando Lannes Fernandes

In this article I reflect upon the construction of socio-political and symbolical marginalization of the dwellers of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. I explore the demonization of favelas and the particular labelling of favelas’ youngsters as the usual suspects and the face of fear in the city. I argue that addressing youngsters generically as ‘drug dealers’ follows the systematic historical devaluation and humiliation of the dwellers of the favelas in the public arena. Thereby I want to show the nature of criminalization of poverty in Rio, and its consequences on youngsters’ life experiences in the city. Youngsters from favelas have been transformed into the main target of strategies of social control and spatial enclosure. Such processes unfold in a core period for Brazilian society and involve transformations in Brazilian socio-political and spatial context, where the negative effects of neoliberal agenda challenge the consolidation of democracy and social justice. This article is based on empirical research in Brazilian favelas with youngsters living under a socio-symbolical shadow (Fernandes, 2009, 2013a/b) and involved in drug trafficking (Fernandes and Rodriguez, 2009; Silva et al, 2009). It is also based on extensive reflection on concepts and theories that enable new representations on favelas and by extension, new routes for public policies addressed for marginalised groups.

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