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Open access

The Power of Silence

Sonic Experiences of Police Operations and Occupations in Rio de Janeiro's Favelas

Sterre Gilsing


This article examines the sonic dimension of police operations and occupations by tracing how the everyday life changed sonically in favelas in Rio de Janeiro during their occupation by Pacifying Police Units. I tune into the silencing practices of these security policies and conclude that a moral silencing of a racialized and gendered class of people takes place. A focus on silence helps us to understand sound as a technology of power, which enables the Brazilian state to operate along a gendered sonic color line. The cases I discuss are two instances of silencing that are a product of the operations and occupations: first, the silencing of the soundscape of the favela during police operations, and second, the silencing of funk parties. These ethnographic instances elucidate how racialized processes of negation of black subjectivity and black cultural expressions take place in the Olympic city.

Open access

Racialized Governance

The Production and Destruction of Secure Spaces in Olympic Rio de Janeiro

Margit Ystanes and Alexandre Magalhães


Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the eviction of residents from Vila Autódromo, a neighborhood that was decimated as Rio de Janeiro prepared to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Inspired by Achille Mbembe's notion of “necropolitics” and Mindy Fullilove's concept of “root shock,” we argue that forced evictions in Rio constitute a form of racialized governance. The authorities exclude favela residents from the citizenry security interventions are intended to protect and conceptualize them instead as security risks. This exclusion reflects the spatial expression of racial hierarchies in the city and produces a public security governance that in the case of Vila Autódromo terrorized residents and destroyed life conditions in their community. Racialized governance therefore exacerbates insecurity for large parts of the population.

Open access

Sheikhs and the City

Urban Paths of Contention in Sidon, Lebanon

Are John Knudsen


This article examines the rise and fall of the “Assir movement,” a neo-Salafist campaign led by a charismatic local sheikh who, after years of community activism, rose to prominence in the wake of the Syrian uprising (2011–present) protesting the Sunnis’ political decline and disempowerment. To understand the Assir movement's popular appeal, it is necessary to examine the pathways of contention in specific urban contexts and the extension of Salafism to secondary cities such as Sidon, where Sheikh Ahmad Assir's neo-Salafism became a political force and can be classified as a new social movement. Neo-Salafism combines populism with sectarianism, and this accounts for its widespread support after 2011, when the Syrian uprising increased Sunni-Shia tensions and shifted the locus of contentious politics from the capital, Beirut, to Sidon, a Sunni-majority city and the seat of the Assir movement. Ultimately, this led to an armed confrontation that crushed the movement, eroded its popular support, and was followed by an electoral defeat in which local elites reasserted control.

Open access

Suburban Dissent

Defining Neighborhood Space and Place in Perth, Western Australia

Jocelyn D. Avery


This article discusses a Western Australian community's campaign against the development of a disability justice center in their Perth neighborhood. The history of the location provides context for an examination of the campaign that draws on the mainstream and social media reporting of the protests. Taking a spatial approach to the analysis situates the disability justice center as an unwanted place within the neighborhood space as imagined, created and reproduced by the residents. The center was, in effect, socially produced by the social relations and political economy of the campaign long before it was a built reality. While politics lay at the heart of the protests, the analysis reveals groups that were marginalized by the campaign and excluded from the community. The campaign brought the community together to protest against the inclusion of anomalous others in their neighborhood, but at the expense of the potential occupants of the disability justice center, many of whom are Aboriginal people. I argue that protests can bring people together and reinforce the idea of community, but protests also reveal who is excluded—inadvertently or not—and may compromise the rights of these “others.”

Open access

“Where Is the New Constitution?”

Public Protest and Community-Building in Post–Economic Collapse Iceland

Timothy Heffernan


Following mass demonstrations in response to the country's 2008 economic collapse, a dynamic civil society has emerged in Iceland focused on democratic reform through rewriting the constitution. This article demonstrates how, in the absence of the new constitution that was promised by the government, protesters are pursuing an unfinished project of reform by holding small, routinized protests founded on an ethic of empathic solidarity (samkennd). By exploring the aesthetic elements of these meetings, I argue that the protest site is being used to highlight and condemn ongoing government transgression while also providing a space to prefigure a future free of political corruption. To this end, explicit signage is shown to be reshaping political discourse while also extending (and denying) kin bonds between protesters.

Open access

Valentina Napolitano

This article explores the tension between Pope Francis as a ‘trickster’ and as a much-needed reformer of the Catholic Church at large. He is an exemplar of the longue durée of an embodied ‘Atlantic Return’ from the Americas to the ‘heart’ of Catholicism (Rome and the Vatican), with its ambivalent, racialized history. Through the mobilization of material religion, sensuous mediations, and the case of the Lampedusa crosses in particular, I engage with an anthropological analysis of Francis as a Criollo and the first-ever Jesuit pope. Examining Francis’s papacy overlapping racial and ethico-political dimensions, I identify coordinates around which the rhetorical, affective, and charismatic force of Francis as a Criollo has been actualized—between, most crucially, proximity and distance, as well as pastoral versus theological impulses. This article advances an understanding of Francis that emerges from a study of the conjuncture of affective fields, political theology, racialized aesthetics, and mediatic interface.

Open access

Liberation Autochthony

Namibian Veteran Politics and African Citizenship Claims

Lalli Metsola


This article examines Namibian ex-combatant and veteran politics in the context of African claims and struggles over citizenship. Namibian veteran politics has unfolded as long-term negotiation between claimants and political authorities over recognition, realization of citizenship, and legitimacy. This process has operated through repeated claims and responses, material techniques such as employment and compensation, and changing delimitations of the categories of ex-combatant and veteran. Compared with citizenship struggles elsewhere in Africa, particularly the much-discussed surge of autochthony and ethnonationalism, this article discusses how the institutional environment and the particular histories of those involved have influenced modes of claim-making and logics of inclusion and exclusion. It finds that the citizenship politics of Namibian veterans are not based on explicit “cultural” markers of difference but still do construct significant differentiation through a scale of patriotism based on precedence in “liberation.”

Open access

Seeking Recognition, Becoming Citizens

Achievements and Grievances among Former Combatants from Three Wars

Johanna Söderström


How do former combatants understand and make themselves into a citizen category? Through exploring the life narratives of former combatants from three different wars (Namibia, Colombia, and United States–Vietnam), this article locates similarities in the claims for recognition. The achievements or the grievances associated with the war and their homecoming made them deserving of special recognition from the state, the country, or other veterans. These claims situate these veterans in a political landscape, where they are called upon to mend and affirm the relation with the state, achieve recognition from society, and defend their fellows, which inform their citizenship practices, as it shaped their political mobilization and perceived political status. Through seeking recognition, they affirm their role as citizens.