“The Gendered Division of Governing Labor: How Activism Thrives in Rio de Janeiro’s Gang Territories"

Anjuli Fahlberg

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Tufts University

September 28, 2022 12:00PM Hybrid Event: Millikan room E53-482

The Gendered Division of Governing Labor: How Activism Thrives in Rio de Janeiro’s Gang Territories
Across Latin America, the rise of the drug trade and militarized policing in poor urban neighborhoods has created numerous obstacles for residents to mobilize for their citizenship rights. These challenges have been especially severe in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where gangs took over neighborhood associations, banned local elections, and assassinated activists who spoke out against them. In this context, how do unarmed residents engage in political activism? In this talk, Dr. Anjuli Fahlberg draws fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2020 in Cidade de Deus, one of Rio’s most dangerous favelas, to examine the gendered constructs that shape political practices in gang territories. Her talk is based on her book, Activism under Fire: The Politics of Non-Violence in Rio de Janeiro’s Gang Territories (Forthcoming, Oxford University Press). While a growing body of literature describes how violent governance is shaped by constructions of masculinity, Dr. Fahlberg brings attention to its binary opposite: feminized activism. By performing political femininity, activist groups—led primarily by women—work both alongside and in opposition to drug gangs to govern the neighborhood, thereby improving conditions in their community and mobilizing for broader forms of social and political change. The talk sheds light on an increasingly important issue: the possibilities for non-violent organizing in areas of conflict and repression.