Alice Lima Baroni

Queensland University of Technology
Jean Burgess
Thesis Title: 
Inside-out: Photojournalists from community and mainstream media organisations in Brazil's favelas

In modern day Brazil, new media initiatives centred in local communities are attempting to change mainstream ideas about favelas and their inhabitants. This thesis will focus on two of these initiatives, Viva Favela and Imagens do Povo, which are both supported by NGOs that are based in Rio de Janeiro. ‘Favela’ is often translated simply as ‘slum’ or ‘shantytown’, but these terms connote negative characteristics such as shortage, poverty, and deprivation, which end up stigmatising these low-income suburbs. This study takes an ethnographic and discursive approach to investigating and comparing two categories of professional photographers to determine how their working practices contribute to empowering the people living in Brazil’s favelas. The first category, community photographers, are favela dwellers who have become engaged with Viva Favela or the agency-school Imagens do Povo, or have developed other photographic projects in favelas. The second category is photojournalists who work in the mainstream media. This study analyses these photographers’ habitus using the principles established by Bourdieu’s (and Johnson 1993) notion of the field. Habitus refers to non-verbal practices that are more reliable than explicit norms and formal rules. nother important term in this thesis is ‘community media’. Although there is consensus between scholars such as Carpentier, Lie and Servaes (2003) and Howley (2010) that the term is elusive and diffuse, this study adopts the term to emphasise both the geographically local and citizen-driven aspects of the Viva Favela and Imagens do Povo projects in Rio de Janeiro. In this study, ‘community media’ refers to community-based organisations whose main aim is to raise people’s consciousness in order to strengthen their voices and self-esteem. To fulfil this aim, these two community-based initiatives, Viva Favela and Imagens do Povo, run projects providing favela residents with the skills to take, edit and print their own images. These photographers’ capabilities enable them to create new community-focused ways of seeing and documenting favela life, personalities and issues.