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Taming the War Machine: Police, Pacification, and Power in Rio de Janeiro

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Abstract

In this thesis I trace the changes in the exercise of Brazilian state power in Rio’s poor communities, or favelas, through an ethnographic exploration of the Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) - allegedly a proximity policing initiative that sought to reassert state control in areas previously dominated by drug cartels. The main interlocutors of this thesis are the military police officers and beat cops working at the UPP’s. Drawing on their experiences, I analyze (a) recent changes in the policing of the favelas; (b) the violent becomings of beat cops; (c) the enactment of state order in the pacified favelas through patrol practices; and (d) the gendered dynamics of the process of reforming and modernizing the police. Throughout the thesis I draw on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987 [1980]) distinction between war machine and state dynamics, which they describe as two antagonistic and mutually annihilating forces that coexist in all social processes. While they describe war machines as a-hierarchical, a- centered, deterritorialized and heterogeneous horizontal assemblages, dedicated to the destruction of the barriers and structures that impede or direct their movement, states are understood as hierarchizing, territorializing and centralizing assemblages, dedicated to the conservation of organs of power and the regulation and control of movement and action. The framework is particularly well suited to analyze processes of violent conflict between state and non-state subjectivities, such as the police and the populations that they are meant to control, as well as conflicting and contradicting processes within particular state orders. I follow Kapferer and Bertelsen (2009: 2) who argue that the “methods and procedures whereby states achieve and legitimate the domains of their control and power are integral to the kind of violence the particular state formation are likely to perpetrate.” Thus, I argue that the exercise of violent state power by the Military Police in Rio de Janeiro must be understood as a product of a particular Brazilian state order founded on colonial modes of domination, where war machine dynamics have been, and continue to be intrinsic to the functioning logic of the Brazilian state. I will argue that two opposing processes converge in the pacification project: on the one hand, it is an attempt to reform the military police through the paradigm of proximity policing, and the taming, domestication, or disciplining of the wild masculinities within the police; on the other hand it represents a colonization of the favelas through a military logic that continues to draw on the rhetoric of war on drugs. The incompatibility between the paradigm of proximity policing and the militarized approach of the UPP’s expresses what Kapferer and Bertelsen (2009) refer to as the aporia of the state.
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... Some scholars have focused specifically on the potential of the reform to challenge prevailing notions of masculinity in the favelas and within the police that are believed to encourage violent behavior. The works of Oliveira (2010), Murão (2013Murão ( , 2015, Jaffa (2014), Rodrigues (2014), as well as my own work (Salem 2016), have all signaled how the prevalence of militarized models of masculinity within PMERJ and at the UPPs contributes to the perpetuation of armed violence in the favelas. Others, including but not limited to Freeman (2012), Saborio (2013), and Steinbrick (2013) More recently, academics have turned their gaze towards the police officers working at the UPPs, and their evaluation and support of the pacification strategy (see Saborio 2014aSaborio , 2014bSaborio , 2015Savell 2014;Magaloni, Franco, and Melo 2015;Musumeci 2015a;Salem 2016). ...
... The works of Oliveira (2010), Murão (2013Murão ( , 2015, Jaffa (2014), Rodrigues (2014), as well as my own work (Salem 2016), have all signaled how the prevalence of militarized models of masculinity within PMERJ and at the UPPs contributes to the perpetuation of armed violence in the favelas. Others, including but not limited to Freeman (2012), Saborio (2013), and Steinbrick (2013) More recently, academics have turned their gaze towards the police officers working at the UPPs, and their evaluation and support of the pacification strategy (see Saborio 2014aSaborio , 2014bSaborio , 2015Savell 2014;Magaloni, Franco, and Melo 2015;Musumeci 2015a;Salem 2016). Generally speaking, these studies have revealed a strong discrediting of the paradigm of proximity policing and generalized suspicion against favela residents among patrol officers, which is contrasted with a general support of the project among officers and base commanders. ...
... In sum, the academic debate surrounding the UPP project is often polarized in what could be defined as a radical critique of the project on the one hand, and critical support on the other. Scholars of the first current question the legitimacy of the the pacification project, which they argue represents a militarization of the favelas, and is tailored to the needs of neoliberalism and global capital (see Fleury 2012 ;Freeman 2012;Saborio 2013Saborio , 2014bSaborio , 2015Steinbrick 2014;Oliveira 2014;Salem 2016). Scholars of the second current signal the flaws of the project (lack of dialogue, poor training of patrol officers, abuses of force, etc.), but still see it as an improvement compared to the policing of the favelas prior to pacification, and tend to place emphasis on how the UPPs initially seemed to reduce the prevalence of Policing and Security in Rio de Janeiro 8 lethal violence in the favelas, and especially the number of police killings (see Borges, Ribeiro, and Cano 2012;Robson 2014;Ramos 2016). ...
... Th is article is the product of eight months of participant observation with the Military Police in Rio de Janeiro from December 2014 to July 2015 and a six-year collaboration between Tomas Salem and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen. Th e reform-oriented leadership of the Military Police at the time of fi eldwork gave Salem full institutional access to carry out a comparative research strategy focused on three UPPs: Santa Marta, Mangueira, and Alemão ( Figure 2), interviewing police offi cers and supporting staff across the institutional hierarchy (for a discussion on access, see Salem 2016). Th roughout the research, Salem experienced how his position as a male, European scholar worked almost as a protective shield and door opener that allowed him to carry out fi eldwork in high-risk situations and gain access to an almost all-male environment shaped by hypermasculine gender norms (see also Sørbøe; Ystanes and Salem, this issue). ...
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p>Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host two major sporting events in the coming years: the 2014 FIFA World Football Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Local authorities are promoting these mega events as an opportunity to increase the global competitiveness of the city. But in order to attract private capital from the global economy it is not enough for Rio to showcase the city as capable of organizing and implementing these events. Rather, the authorities must also demonstrate that what has been considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world can now become a safe place for business. To do so, what has been promoted as a new model of ‘community policing’ the UPP (Pacifying Police Units) has been implemented since 2008 in 107 favelas. The majority of the favelas involved in the program are situated around the sites where these mega events will take place and around other wealthy areas of the city. This article analyses the relation between mega events, global competitiveness and the neutralization of local marginality. Rio de Janeiro se prépare à accueillir les plus grands événement sportifs des prochaines années: la coupe du monde de football en 2014 et les jeux olympiques en 2016. Les autorités locales valorisent ces événements mondiaux comme autant d’opportunités pour augmenter la compétitivité de la ville. Cependant, il n’est pas suffisant pour attirer les capitaux privés de l’économie mondiale que Rio soit valorisée comme une ville capable d’organiser et de gérer ces événements. Les autorités doivent aussi démontrer que, ce qui auparavant était considéré comme une des plus dangereuses villes du monde, peut maintenant devenir un endroit sûr pour les entreprises. Dans ce but, l’ UPP (Pacifying Police Units) a été mis en place en 2008 dans 107 favelas et est décrit comme le nouveau modèle de la police communitarian. La plupart des favelas intégrées dans le programme sont situées autour des lieux qui accueilleront les événements et dans d’autres endroits confortables de la ville. Pour cette raisons, cette article analyse les relations entre les événements mondiaux, la compétitivité mondiale et la neutralisation de la marginalité locale.</p
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