The embodied state: governmentality in a Brazilian favela

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Given that the influence of the state apparatus tends to vary across space, it has been frequently presumed that the state develops a stronger presence in wealthier neighborhoods (where levels of capital accumulation are higher) than it does in poorer ones. In Brazilian favelas (urban slums), as a prominent example, ethnographic accounts have previously suggested that the presence of the 'official' state is limited and on the decline. Based on the results of intensive fieldwork in Fortaleza, Brazil, this paper complicates that argument, positing that the state, through the effects of governmentality, may actually have a much stronger presence in favelas than has often been presumed. Drawing upon case research with favela residents, and interpreting through a Foucaultian perspective, this paper explains the increasing presence of the state through the governmentality produced in urban space. By recognizing how the state manifests both in and through bodies and space, researchers are provided better traction for understanding proliferating urban slums and explaining the political landscapes they engender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-739
Number of pages19
JournalSocial & Cultural Geography
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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