Current Institutional Affiliation
Project Director, Watson Institute Costs of War, Brown University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Brown University
Humanitarian Militarism in Everyday Lives: The Brazilian Human Security Paradigm

This proposal outlines an ethnographic study of security, in particular the Brazilian ‘human security’ paradigm, which combines humanitarian discourses with armed interventions. Launching a vigorous bid to become the world’s ‘human security superpower,’ Brazilian troops have led recent UN peacekeeping missions in East Timor and, since 2004, in Haiti. Meanwhile, since 2008 the Rio de Janeiro government has charted a new course in urban security policy with the implementation of controversial ‘Police Pacification Units,’ or UPP – a policy that, as in Haiti, is based on humanitarian militarism. In both Haiti and Rio, Brazil’s violent military model of how to ‘pacify’ urban slums seems at odds with the model’s branding as ‘human security’ – a term popularized by the UN to index the goals of protecting individuals from violence and promoting rights and community development. My project aims to (1) understand how Brazil has constructed a paradigm of human security that simultaneously promotes and denies human rights, and (2) analyze the consequences of this model for its targets, the urban poor. I investigate the context in which the Brazilian state developed urban security expertise in Rio de Janeiro; how this expertise has been sent abroad to Haiti; and how the experience of exporting security has then reshaped the paradigm as it travels back to Rio. My proposed research focuses on the last part of this global circulation, examining the effects of the travel of security expertise between Brazil and Haiti, and how Brazil’s foreign military operations and self-branding as a human security superpower have affected security operations – and therefore the urban poor – in Rio’s favelas.