Hannah Pollack Sarnecki, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Favela Funk: Ways of Being Young in the Margins of a City Becoming Global

During the last decade, 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. But in Brazil, favela funk is rather drawing 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 play with violence and the obscene in an alleged glorification of gang power. This dissertation is an ethnographic inquiry into the politics, economy and history of funk music in one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. It tells the story of how a drug dealing gang challenges the sovereignty of the state in its turf by means of both arms and the control and distribution of pleasure and fun. Funk, in this account, emerges as an immensely popular social practice and thus a technology of drug dealing power. By treating violence and the obscene as both unifying and fragmenting in the social dynamics of this place, the dissertation unravels the paths that favela youth trudge in contexts of severe poverty, vulnerability and lack of access to state institutions and formal employment.

Examiner: Steffen Jensen, Senior Researcher, DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture

All seminars in the series.