This peace comes with a war that never ends: Favela peace formation amid violent public security processes in Rio de Janeiro

  • Ingri Buer

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis offers a new consideration of peace processes that engage with the needs and challenges of marginalized, racialized populations living through urban violence in the expanding peripheries of the postcolonial world. The research draws on the perspectives of favela community leaders, educators and activists on the challenges to their work in reducing violence in their communities, which were gathered during eight months of qualitative fieldwork in and around the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2019-2020. Through a critical lens, the thesis considers Rio de Janeiro as a colonial city where historical and continuous state exclusion, criminalization and murder of favela residents feed a violent cycle of drug-related crime and violence in the favelas. It questions the meaning of peace and top-down public security policies like the Police Pacification Program (UPP) and mega-operations in a city where the favela residents have since slavery been considered a violent people to be pacified and controlled. It thus critiques the militarized state security operations in the favelas as one man’s peace, another man’s warzone, noting that these pacification attempts effectively conduct urban warfare against the majority-black favelas to increase a sense of security in the whiter, wealthier areas of Rio de Janeiro. The thesis consequently proposes and discusses favela peace formation as a concept to describe alternative processes in the favelas working to reduce manifest and structural violence: a nonviolent, favela grassroots, locally legitimate peace process, which navigates various blockages and opportunities within and outside the state in its construction of a future with more social justice and less violence. It finds that through community education and engagement; navigation of the judiciary and occupation of certain positions within politics; and constant work to produce knowledge from the favela to change criminalizing narratives, favela peace formation manages to slowly construct an alternative, but limited peace both outside of and within the state. It concludes that due to enormous challenges of state violence, corruption, racism and criminalization of the favelas and their movements, favela peace formation needs support from partners within the Brazilian state, international institutions and/or solidarity movements in order to fulfil their unique potential to construct an alternative, inclusive politics without violence.
Date of Award1 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRubina Jasani (Supervisor) & Oliver Richmond (Supervisor)

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