R. Ben Penglase, PhD
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies
Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favelas: Violence and Everyday Life
Rutgers University Press, 2014
Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela examines how inequality, racism, drug trafficking, police brutality, and gang activities affect the daily lives of the people of Caxambu, a favela (squatter neighborhood) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although the favela is often seen as a war zone, the residents of Caxambu are linked to each other through bonds of kinship and friendship. In addition, residents often take pride in homes and public spaces that they have built and used over generations. Penglase notes that despite poverty, their lives are not completely defined by illegal violence or deprivation. He argues that urban violence and a larger context of inequality create a social world that is deeply contradictory and ambivalent. The unpredictability and instability of daily experiences result in disagreements and tensions, but the residents also experience their neighborhood as a place of social intimacy. As a result, the social world of the neighborhood is both a place of danger and safety.