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Anthropoliteia in 2015

Comical Repast (Banquet of the Starved) James Ensor  (Belgian, Ostend 1860–1949 Ostend) Date: ca. 1917–18 Medium: Oil on canvas Dimensions: 45 1/2 x 57 1/4 in. (115.6 x 145.4 cm) Classification: Paintings Credit Line: Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 Accession Number: 67.187.68

Comical Repast (Banquet of the Starved) James Ensor ca. 1917–18

 

As we welcome a new year and get ready for the new semester, we at Anthropoliteia would just like to take a moment to reflect on the many exciting changes that occurred here over the course of 2014.  We redesigned the site with a snazzy new look.  We welcomed several new section editors as well as guest editors and contributors.  We launched new features (Book Reviews, DragNet, In the Journals, Interrogations, Practicum and Tip of the Cap), several on-going forums (What’s Going on in Ukraine?, Security in Brazil:World Cup 2014 and Beyond, and #Ferguson & Elsewhere), organized several panels and events at #AAA2014, and even created a new format for Dispatches and Dossiers “From the Field”.

Once we catch our breath, we hope to continue the fun in 2015.  Until then, here’s a look back at our most popular posts of 2014:

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Commentary & Forums, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

Rio de Janeiro’s BOPE and Police Pacification: Fear and Intimidation in Complexo da Maré

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Nicholas Barnes with the latest entry in our developing forum, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.
Photo: Deco Cabral (published with permission of the photographer)

Photo: Deco Cabral (published with permission of the author)

The scene was impeccably staged. The Special Operations Police Battalion (commonly referred to as BOPE and famously depicted in the film Elite Squad and its sequel) had set up a temporary command center on the edge of the plaza. More than a hundred of their police, armed to the teeth, with bulletproof vests and helmets, were milling around in the sweltering heat with nothing to do after taking control of the area without a shot being fired. Sky, the television company, had set up a small table under an umbrella and was hoping to sign up residents for their cable package. A helicopter made low passes over the plaza. City sanitation workers pushed around piles of garbage, pretending to work. In the midst of all of this, BOPE police were giving rides to kids on several horses as dozens of journalists snapped photos of the delighted children. Later in the afternoon, BOPE raised their flag alongside the Brazilian national flag in the middle of the plaza. With much pomp and circumstance, Complexo da Maré, the largest group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, had officially begun the pacification process.[1]

Located in the sprawling, industrial northern zone of the city, Complexo da Maré is a cluster of 16 favelas with a population of roughly 130,000. It is a public security concern because it is home to several non-state armed actors (two separate gang factions and a militia) and is located at the intersection of three of the major traffic arteries that connect the international airport to the rest of the city. I have been residing in Maré for the past year conducting dissertation field research. This has allowed me the opportunity to witness BOPE operations first hand and interview residents and community leaders about the tenuous and shifting public security situation. I will argue that BOPE’s pattern of abusive tactics and violence comprised an overall strategy to threaten and terrorize these communities into submission in an effort to “retake” these favela territories. And while such a strategy may have produced more effective tactical operations and short-term results, it is counter-productive to the pacification process in the long run and requires a major reassessment by the public security apparatus moving forward. Continue reading

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