I am currently working on two research projects. The first is writing up my dissertation, which was based on ethnographic research in the City of God, a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro that has experienced extremely high rates of violence by drug traffickers and the state’s military police. Although most of the literature suggests that armed conflict is destructive of civil society, I argue that residents’ collective experiences of violence motivate new political subjectivities and emergent practices of civic engagement and social change. I plan to defend my dissertation in the spring, 2017. The second project is a participatory action research project also based in the City of God, which I have been conducting with Thomas Vicino (in Political Science) and Dietmar Offenhuber (in CAMD) as part of the Provost’s Office Tier 1 Seed Grant Initiative. The project involved developing an extensive survey with local residents measuring development, insecurity and social resilience and then administering the survey to a representative sample of 1,000 respondents across the neighborhood earlier this year. I’ll be returning in June to present the survey findings to local residents. We plan to extend this model of studying social resilience into several other Latin American cities in the future.
I was honored to be selected as a fellow for the Humanities Center. One of my main objectives in writing my dissertation is to use my participants’ narratives and experiences as a way of demonstrating how lived realities of violence help to produce politicized bodies, places, and practices. Being at the Humanities Center, surrounded by scholars deeply engaged in the project of bringing the humanity of real people to life through writing and other types of scholarship, will be an incredible opportunity to learn how to make an impact through story-telling. Although in the social and hard sciences we often discard the importance of lived experiences, these are in fact how we each connect with the social world, how we develop theories about it, how we set out to test them, and then how we make meaning of what we have found. The humanities provide a poignant reminder that all scholarship is driven by, for, and about real people, in all their simplicities and complexities.
Anjuli Fahlberg is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. Her research examines the effects of urban violence and uneven development on citizenship and social change in Latin America. With funding from the National Science Foundation and several university grants, Anjuli’s dissertation research documents the effects of armed conflict between drug traffickers and the military police on the possibilities for social action among non-violent residents in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Anjuli is now developing a model for participatory action research in conflict zones with a research team at Northeastern University and with residents from the City of God, one of Rio’s most dangerous and vibrant favelas, or marginalized low-income neighborhoods. She plans to employ this model in other Latin American cities. Anjuli has published her research in Habitat International, the Journal of Urban Affairs and Sociology Compass, among others. She received best paper awards from the Latin American Studies Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems and Northeastern University’s Outstanding Graduate Research Award. She was recently selected for the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities Center at Northeastern University and was awarded the Urban Affairs Association’s Alma J. Young Emerging Scholar Award.