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UBC Theses and Dissertations

PACifying Alemão : articulations of public security, market formalization, and autoconstruction in Rio de Janeiro Prouse, Valerie Carolyn


The complex of favelas known as Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has recently been targeted by two large-scale state projects: infrastructural upgrading via the country’s Growth Acceleration Program (PAC, or “urbanization”) and military police occupation via the Police Pacifying Unit program (UPP, or “pacification”). In this dissertation I focus on the various regimes of power, profit, and discourse that constitute these state presences. Based on participant observation, interviews, policy analysis, and popular discourse analysis, I argue that a global urban research agenda requires theorizing in historically and geographically-situated ways. Inspired by the Gramscian tradition, by Brazilian urbanists, by modernity/coloniality scholars of Latin America, and by local activists, I develop a conceptual framework that integrates four different characteristics of urbanization projects. They are informed by historical processes; shaped by flows of capital, people, and policy; negotiated between civil society and state; and influenced by myriad regimes of power. Through this framework I make two related arguments. First, I argue that PAC and pacification strategies overlap in a nexus that I call PACification. PACification joins together marketization, the construction of racialized threats, and violent securitization. It manifests in strategies to attract international investment, extend microfinance, enroll people in mortgages, and foment entrepreneurial behavior, often informed by military police violence. Second, I argue that residents’ and activists’ modes of autoconstruction – in which people build their own communities often over generations – are central to the contemporary manifestation of PACification. Presently, residents are not only building communities out of bricks and mortar, but also through discourses, images, texts, and digital practices in order to safeguard their neighbours and to improve their daily lives.

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