Life on the Margins

Kelly E. Hayes

in Holy Harlots

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262645
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949430 | DOI:
Life on the Margins

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This chapter discusses the historical emergence of the favela and its significance in the public imaginary shared by cariocas, as the inhabitants of Brazil's second largest metropolis are called. As one of the most visible manifestations of discrepancies in the distribution of economic and other forms of capital, the favela occupies a key place in the Rio de Janeiro's moral topography and serves as a symbolically resonant focal point for tensions surrounding these inequalities. Where outsiders manage their fears of the favela and its inhabitants by, among other things, rigorously avoiding these areas, those who live there must resort to other strategies. The chapter lays the foundation for an argument: in the context of a social-moral setting that is coded as illicit, stories and rituals dedicated to Pomba Gira posit an alternative moral topography that draws on familiar elements of social space but offers different possibilities for action and interpretation.

Keywords: favela; cariocas; Brazil; metropolis; Rio de Janeiro; moral topography; stories; rituals; Pomba Gira; social space

Chapter.  9727 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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