Metafreedom? The carnivalesque of freedom in a Brazilian favela
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This thesis dwells on the existence of freedom in the life of people in a Brazilian favela (shantytown). The ethnography presents the dance of freedom with the full intensity of a carnivalesque. The exploration also ponders the existence of metafreedom (proposed as the freedom necessary for the expression of freedom) as a form of control over iterations of freedom. At the same time that it argues for a radical carnivalization of narratives of freedom, it flirts with the very limits of freedom as a concept and as a practice. One of the main contributions is in avoiding a reductive analysis of the concept of freedom, narrowing it to a simpler or alternative notion. Instead, the project presents the complex relations of five experienced objects – livre; livre-arbítrio; libertação; liberada and liberdade – to one another and to the life situations in which they come to existence in Favela da Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro. In methodological terms, the research argues that one of the ways to approach the topic of freedom from an ethnographic perspective is through the occurrences of linguistic expressions of freedom as objects that can be empirically experienced and registered by the ethnographer. It is mainly by making the complexities of freedom visible ethnographically, by tracing freedoms in their daily existence and by connecting these different kinds of freedom to diverse lived experiences and social contexts that the thesis advances the debate on freedom. The discussion of a carnivalesque of freedom in a Brazilian favela is also a call for a reflection on what ethnography as an empirical method, and anthropology more broadly, can offer to the understanding of freedom.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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