Social media activism in the favelas

Corporate Marketing & Communications were very pleased to welcome back Dr Andrea Medrado who was a member of the team prior to returning to her native Brazil to take up a post at Universidade Federal Fluminense. Andrea visited with her colleague Renata Souza to discuss her research and explore opportunities for collaboration.

Their work focuses on how the marginalized people of the favellas, poorer communities on the outskirts of Rio, use the Nos pur Nos (Us by Us) mobile app to document and share instances of police brutality and oppression. The research is particularly relevant given that much of the oppression has occurred during the process of development and gentrification which has taken place as part of the preparation for the World Cup and subsequently for the Olympics which start in a matter of days.

The research of Andrea and Renata show that such apps have the capacity to be empowering but can also open activists to threats of oppression themselves. The surveillance state can identify key activists, as can criminal elements, in order to close down information sources which threaten their hegemony. The hope is to develop the relationship to explore further how the marginalized use independent media, in particular but not exclusively social media, and with what impact. The research is central to many of the themes explored within the Centre for Politics & Media Research and the questions raised are very important for understanding political and social inclusion and exclusion. The Centre looks forward to working further with Andrea and her colleagues on this important area.

Andrea and Renato