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The Politics of Non-Violence in Rio de Janeiro's Gang Territories
Forthcoming, Oxford University Press

One fifth of Rio de Janeiro's population resides in favelas, poor neighborhoods under siege by violent drug gangs and the state's brutal military police since the 1970s. This book project sets out to document the strategies that non-violent favela activists are using to fight for their neighborhood and make demands for their rights in the most infamous of Rio's favelas: the City of God.

Winner of the 2019 Best Dissertation Award by the American Sociological Association

Winner of the 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Dissertation Award from the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association


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Anjuli Fahlberg, PhD

Dr. Anjuli Fahlberg is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Tufts University. Her research applies an intersectional lens to the study of social movements, urban violence, and uneven development in Latin America, with a particular focus on the possibilities for and types of activism in gang territories. Dr. Fahlberg employs mixed methods, including ethnographic fieldwork and survey research, though all of her research follows the principles of participatory action research. Dr. Fahlberg received the 2019 Best Dissertation Award from the American Sociological Association for her dissertation "Activism under Fire: Violence, Poverty and Collective Action in Rio de Janeiro." She has published in several peer-reviewed journals and received funding from the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and several others. Dr. Fahlberg was raised in Brazil and dedicated much of her pre-academic career to working with immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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Activism under Fire:

The Politics of Non-Violence in Rio de Janeiro's Gang Territories

This book project examines the many forms of non-violent collective action that have emerged within a context of extreme gang and police violence. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2020 in Cidade de Deus, one of Rio de Janeiro's most notorious and dangerous neighborhoods.

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Building Together: 

Participatory Research on the Social Costs of Urban Violence 

Beginning in 2017, residents in the City of God, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, collaborated in the development, administration, analysis of a large-scale survey (n=989) about the social costs of urban violence and neglected physical and social infrastructure in their neighborhood. 

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The Favela in the Ivory Tower:

Participatory Approaches to Making Knowledge

People from favelas, slums, and other marginalized geographic or social communities are rarely protagonists in the construction of knowledge about them. This initiative seeks to promote research projects and collaborations that engage in innovative efforts to include marginalized populations in the collection, analysis, and publication of academic scholarship.

Current Research Projects


The Building Together Research Collaborative

100 local residents developed the survey instrument

15 local research assistants

989 respondents 

83 questions about social development, insecurity and resilience

3,000 pamphlets with findings distributed across the neighborhood 

Recent Publications

Fahlberg, Anjuli. Forthcoming. “Decolonizing Sociology through Collaboration, Co-Learning and Action: A Case for Participatory Action Research.” Sociological Forum.

Fahlberg, Anjuli, Cristiane Martins, Mirian Andrade, Sophia Costa and Jacob Portela. Forthcoming. “The Impact of the Pandemic on Poor Urban Neighborhoods: A Participatory Action Research Study of a ‘Favela’ in Rio de Janeiro.” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. Forthcoming.

Fahlberg, Anjuli, Maya Velasquez, Harper Wise and Tori Simon. 2023. “Tangential Movements: How feminist organizing against gender-based violence offers an alternative avenue for protesting drug violence in Latin America.” World Development. 2023.

Fahlberg, Anjuli, Thomas Vicino, Ricardo Andrade and Viviane Potiguara. 2020. “Confronting Chronic Shocks: Social Resilience in Rio de Janeiro’s Poor Neighborhoods.” Cities: International Journal of Urban Planning and Policy. 99(4). 

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