Social and Cultural Borders in Rio de Janeiro: The Everyday Life of Community and Mainstream Photojournalists

By Alice Baroni.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper takes a multimethod approach which combines ethnographic techniques and discourse studies to investigate two contrasting professional groups: community photographers, who are favela dwellers who have developed photographic projects in Brazil‘s favelas, and photojournalists of the mainstream media. Its purpose is to determine how a cultural and social divide in the city of Rio de Janeiro shapes both community photographers and mainstream photojournalists’ practices, discourses, and identities. While community photographers strive to establish a humane and positive view about favelas and their residents by shifting the focus from poverty, shortages, violence, and criminality to images of the ordinary life, mainstream photojournalists express the view that their role is of primary importance for the defence of human rights in the favelas by helping to prevent, for instance, police abuses and violations. As the data analysis indicated the existence of socio-spatial borders all over Rio de Janeiro, this study adopted the idea of a divided city without denying interconnections between favelas and the city’s political life. Through the analysis of categories which emerged from the data, the complex world of documenting favela life is explored. The major themes touched upon are: the breakdown between the mainstream media and the favela communities; the different kinds of relationships which arise in Rio’s low income suburbs; and the gradual return of mainstream news workers to favelas.

Keywords: Social and Cultural Borders, Identities, Practices, Discourses, Favelas, Photography, Photojournalism, Media

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.53-61. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 388.157KB).

Alice Baroni

PhD Candidate, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology exploring photo-journalism, participatory content creation, and community media photography in Brazil’s favelas. I have four years’ experience in communications research, first through my Masters in communication from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, and then as an investigator with two research groups: Thought and Experience at Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, and Theories and Practices in Journalism at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. My Masters’ thesis is in process of being published as a book by Annablume Editor, Brazil. It is titled The Construction of Truth-Effect in Os Sertões and Abusado. I am part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and a Brazilian research group: Language, Narratives, and Cultural and Journalistic Processes.