Join SOLAS at the Latin American & Iberian Institute for a ¡SOLAS Presents! lecture series event with presentations from UNM graduate students Sam Johnson and Julia Youngs.
Oligarchy and Urban Anxieties: Fear and Isolation in O som ao redor
Sam Johnson received his M.A. in Latin American Studies from UNM, and is currently a M.A. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UNM.
Sam’s presentation will focus on the 2012 Brazilian film O som ao redor [Neighboring Sounds] directed by Kleber Mendoça Filho. Sam examines how Filho’s debut feature film portrays class-based anxieties concerning crime and violence of an upper-class community in the northeastern metropolis of Recife. Drawing on the work of cultural critic Susana Rotker and urban anthropologist Teresa Caldeira, Sam’s paper illustrates how the class-based discourses of security and crime portrayed in O som ao redor illustrate the contemporary crisis in sociability within the Brazilian elites and between the upper-class and other socioeconomic sectors.
Filho’s adept selection of sound and cinematography draws viewers into the private homes of his upper-class protagonists and high-rises looming over the lower income sectors. An analysis of the class-based discourse of crime and urban development in O som ao redor is illustrative of the social ramifications of Brazil’s historical and contemporary pattern of unequal development.
In December of 2013 Brazil’s Ministry of Defense published a document entitled “Garantia da Lei e Ordem,” that serves as a manual for assuring public security by combatting social mobilization by groups considered to be “forças oponentes.” The Garantia permits limited use of force under special circumstances with the nebulous goal of maintaining social order. That same month at the Itaquera shopping mall in São Paulo nearly 6,000 young Brazilians organized the first rolezinho. The rolezinhos are a digitally mobilized social movement in which large groups of (generally) lower income teenagers occupy upscale commercial centers to socialize in these traditionally exclusionary spaces. News media has suggested a variety of reasons behind the rolezinhos including speculation about mass robbery, but the primary aim seems to be simply to reclaim increasingly segregated urban public (malls are not public) spaces. This work analyzes the concurrent publication of the “Garantia da Lei e Ordem” and the creation of the rolezinho to explore how they seek to redefine what public space is and who has the right to occupy it. This examination will show how the perception of insecurity derived from socio-economic segregation and the privatization of public space reinforced through acts like the Garantia perpetuate a system of social and racial inequality in Brazil, and as consequence individuals must seek alternative ways of reclaiming space as seen through the rolezinhos.
For a PDF of the event flyer, click here.