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Introduction

Exceptionalism and Necropolitical Security Dynamics in Olympic Rio de Janeiro

Margit Ystanes and Tomas Salem

Abstract

For more than a decade, urban development in Rio de Janeiro was driven by the urgency of preparations for mega-events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. During these years, Brazilian authorities used the mega-events to create a state of exception that legitimized a broad range of state security interventions across the city. While Brazilian authorities presented the events as an opportunity to create a modern, dynamic, and socially inclusive city, this special section argues that the security interventions implemented in Rio during the years of Olympic exceptionalism intensified racialized and gendered inequalities and reproduced historical patterns of necropolitical governance that has sought to render black life in Brazil impossible.

Open access

Emergent Police States

Racialized Pacification and Police Moralism from Rio's Favelas to Bolsonaro

Tomas Salem and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

Abstract

The Pacifying Police Units, rolled out in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, were part of a police intervention conceived to end the logic of war that characterized the city's public security policies. As such, it adopted “soft” strategies of policing aimed at reducing violence and asserting state sovereignty in “pacified” favelas. Drawing on a postcolonial framework of analysis, we argue that these favelas can be understood as sites for experiments in imperial statecraft, where a new set of socio-moral relations that we call police moralism were inscribed onto spaces and bodies. Pacification, in this context, means the reassertion of Brazil's historical racial order. In our conclusion, we read the moral order implemented in the favelas as a prefiguration of President Jair Bolsonaro's right-wing authoritarianism on a national scale.