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Research

Favela funk – Ways of Being Young in the Urban Peripheries of Rio de Janeiro

During the last decades, funk music produced in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro has been travelling the world as a genre of contemporary cool. Construed as both hip and authentic and consumed globally, it has become a political and commercial asset in the nation’s rise to economic dominance and in Rio’s campaign to become a global city. In Brazil, however, favela funk draws the boundaries between the shanty towns of the urban margins, where it remains a social practice, and the state, by which it is condemned and sometimes prohibited for lyrics that allude to violence in an alleged glorification of gang power. Funk, in this account, emerges as an immensely popular social practice and thus an instrument of drug-dealing power. By treating violence and the sexually explicit as both unifying and fragmenting in the social dynamics of this place, the study uncovers the paths that favela youth tread in the context of severe poverty, vulnerability and limited access to state institutions and formal employment.  The dissertation is an ethnographic inquiry into social life and power relations in one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, exploring how a drug-dealing faction challenges the sovereignty of the state on its turf by means of both arms and the control and distribution of pleasure and fun.