Brick by Brick: an ethnography of terror politics and media-oriented activism in Rio de Janeiro

  • Antonia Gama Cardoso De Oliveira Costa

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores the process of eviction in Vila Autódromo, a small community located in an area of Rio de Janeiro going through real estate expansion under the guise of urban improvements in response to mega-events. It tells the story of a long struggle between the local government of Rio de Janeiro, backed by market-driven policies, and a group of media-oriented grass-roots activists supported by university researchers and other human rights advocates. It draws on a 12-month ethnographic study conducted on the final stage of the struggle, between January and December 2015, in which I worked as an activist anthropologist, using audiovisual material in both capacities. While exploring the various reasons behind people's decisions to either stay or leave Vila Autódromo, I elaborate on "pervasive terror" to account for the state's tactics to force people out of Vila Autódromo, using mechanisms of control and domination, even sometimes with the support of a few pro-eviction residents. I also explore the resistance strategies mobilised by residents and their collaborators, especially in their use of photographs, videos, and social media, arguing that the widespread use of digital technology is transforming the process and shape of the resistance against the state terror that targets the black poor population in Brazil.
Date of Award6 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Wade (Supervisor) & Angela De Souza Torresan (Supervisor)


  • State Terror
  • Community
  • House
  • Activism
  • Resistance
  • Eviction
  • Media technologies

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