Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



This thesis focuses on the work of AfroReggae, a non-profit, social organization that works within the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unlike the state policies of the Police Pacification Units (UPP) that have existed in the favelas since 2008, AfroReggae is targeting the main cause of the favela’s problems: their social displacement. The favelas have been socially displaced from the rest of the city of Rio de Janeiro through decades of inequality and persecution. These stigmas create lived experiences of prejudice for favela residents, pushing them to the marginalized borders of their favelas in the hills of Rio, a phenomenon that repeats itself across other urban centers of Brazil as well. AfroReggae directly combats social displacement by creating bridges of discourse and active communication between favela communities and the city of Rio. They use and exhibit acts of Afro-Brazilian culture as a means to ensure their citizenship within this city, while simultaneously working with a wide range of networks and partners to create opportunities in the civil society for favela residents. The methodology of AfroReggae is effective in the favela because of their organic relationship to the communities they are working within. They also embody multiple characteristics of cultural influence that favela residents consider to be important in individual and communal development. This type of bottom-up, social organization is powerful in the favelas because it works with cultural empowerment and existing social perceptions of favela residents to directly influence and better their lives. AfroReggae is de-narcotizing the favelas while providing citizenship, and should be better analyzed to understand how best to develop areas of social displacement in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.