Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Donna M. Goldstein

Second Advisor

Carole A. McGranahan

Third Advisor

Kaifa Roland

Fourth Advisor

Robert Buffington

Fifth Advisor

Andrew Calabrese

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the connections between everyday violence and digital technology. I describe three years of ethnographic research concerning a community policing program called “pacificação”(pacification) in a Brazilian favela (shanty town). Alongside supporting a permanent police force that destabilized a powerful drug faction, pacification policy endorsed a wide range of social projects and dramatically reshaped the relationship between the Brazilian State and its marginalized citizens. Among the social projects associated with pacification were a number of “inclusão digital” (digital inclusion) programs that combined technical literacy with critical political literacy in the hope of disrupting exclusionary conditions. During my observations of these programs, I found what I call a hidden politics of digital reproduction. Rather than disrupting the pacified favela’s social conditions, as proponents of digital inclusion suggested, technology disguised and reproduced longstanding forms of oppression. I recount several examples of digital inclusion’s hidden politics including technology corporations that used a discourse of disruption to promote middleclass consumerism in the favela and police who appropriated the rhetoric of social media activist to distract from human rights abuses. In considering these hidden politics of digital reproduction, my theoretical discussion informs anthropological scholarship concerning violence, a modern information society, and democracy in marginalized urban communities.

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