A favela (Portuguese pronunciation: [faˈvɛlɐ]) is the term for a shanty town in Brazil, most often within urban areas. In the late 18th century, the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived.
The French artist JR first made his mark in Rio de Janeiro last year, as giant posters of staring eyes started appearing on buildings in the city's oldest favela.
He was drawn there following the controversial deaths of three young men, amid alleged collusion between Brazilian soldiers and a drugs gang.
Perhaps the greatest barrier to incorporating the favelas into the rest of Rio are the Cariocas (residents of Rio) themselves. The first thing they say is, watch out, you know, be careful there. People have lived in Rio all their life looking at Vidigal and have never set foot in it. They've driven past it in their cars," Scott says. "It's still very much stigmatized." In contrast, the music and art of the favelas attract Americans and Europeans.
High rates of homicide in Brazil are heavily concentrated in poor urban shanty towns or ‘favelas’. When the characteristics of 100 addresses of homicide incidents were compared with those of 100 nearby non-homicide addresses, they showed statistical associations with drug areas, bars, alleys, windows onto the street and vehicular traffic, lending general empirical support to theorized situational mechanisms.
In Brazilian favelas (urban slums), as a prominent example, ethnographic accounts have previously suggested that the presence of the ‘official’ state is limited and on the decline. Based on the results of intensive fieldwork in Fortaleza, Brazil, we can posit that the state, through the effects of governmentality, may actually have a much stronger presence in favelas than has often been presumed.
Although residential segregation by race and class are interrelated and driven by similar socioeconomic factors, the relative lack of racial segregation in the favelas of Rio de Janiero has facilitated more effective political engagement around class issues without eradicating racial identities.
Living conditions in pacified favelas are steadily improving, in many non-pacified communities security and social services are still at a critical level or even deteriorating. According to the 2010 Census, there are a total of 1,332 favelas in the state of Rio de Janeiro with a population of more than 2 million inhabitants. The pacification strategy only envisions installing UPP units in a rather small fraction of these (100 favelas) by 2016. Thus, some people have voiced the concern that Rio de Janeiro is changing from being a divided city into one that has divided favelas, because of the increasing differences between the pacified and non-pacified communities.
The reasons for the favela's demolition are disputed. Locals believe authorities plan to replace it with a car park for the nearby stadium, a story endorsed by one demolition worker."The World Cup is on its way and they want this area," said Freitas. "I think it is inhumane." Asked why demolition had started while hundreds of people were still living in the favela, Bittar blamed a construction company's failure to complete a new housing estate for the displaced residents on time. Leaving children to live and play amid the wreckage was unacceptable, he conceded.
Residents in some of the favelas, or slums, who face eviction are pulling together and standing their ground, in stark contrast to the preparations for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where authorities easily removed hundreds of thousands of families from the city for the Games. Favela residents are using handheld video cameras and social media to get their messages across.
Research on housing started in Brazil with the study of the favela in the 1960's. At that time the favela was seen as the 'natural' habitat of the urban poor and the theory of social marginality was in vogue throughout Latin America. Originally associated with precarious housing conditions the 'marginal' population came to be identified wtih traits such as low-income and educational levels, underemployment, disorganization of families, anomy and lack of social participation.
A favela is always transient and permanent construction, even with time seems to have been settled, finding some stability. The older houses are rude red brick, built side by side and one above the other, resembling a thin line of dominoes. The red brick remain exposed and are almost never cemented, as the walls that are almost never painted. The intricate network of small streets and is an almost impenetrable maze where electrical installations are vulnerable to water and sewer pipes open. To an observer, a slum looks resignation.