Jaime Amparo Alves
Title: The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and the Struggle for Black Urban Life in Brazil
Abstract: With Black Lives Matter still resonating in the United States, the movement has also made a potent rallying call worldwide, with harsh police tactics and repressive state policies often breaking upon racial lines. The Anti-Black City delves into the dynamics of racial violence in Brazil, where poverty, unemployment, residential segregation and a biased criminal justice system creates urban conditions of racial precarity. It offers race as a vital lens through which to view violence and marginalization in the supposedly “raceless” São Paulo. Ironically, in a context in which racial ambiguity makes it difficult identify who is black and who is white, racialized access to opportunities and violent police tactics establish hard racial boundaries through subjugation and death. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in prisons and neighborhoods on the periphery of this mega-city, it documents the brutality of police tactics and the complexity of responses deployed by black residents, including self-help initiatives, public campaigns against police violence, ruthless gangs, and self-policing of black communities. Illustrating how “governing through death” has become the dominant means for managing and controlling ethnic populations in the neoliberal state, this work shows that these tactics only lead to more marginalization, criminality, and violence, thus bringing on further racialized repression. Ultimately, it points to a need for an entirely new approach to an intractable problem: how to govern populations and territories historically seen as ‘ungovernable’ or enemies of public order.
Bio: Jaime Amparo Alves is assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York and associate researcher at the Centro de Estudios Afrodiaspóricos of Universidad Icesi, in Colombia.