Anthropology professor Alessandro Angelini has received a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, a grant meant to support to support innovative writing projects to advance anthropological knowledge. Here are further details on the book project supported by the award.
“Model Favela: Miniature Life in Rio de Janeiroexplores the social life of imagination through the porous boundaries of the ludic and the real. The favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where around one-fifth of the city’s 11 million inhabitants live, have emblematized rampant planetary urbanization. Yet many of Rio’s most iconic favelas are neither new nor disordered: they have histories driven by complex political and economic dynamics, of which residents make their own sense. Whether cast as resource or problem, I argue that a pervasive assumption of the favela as an external reality undergirds modes of representation that make its continual rediscovery a tacit artifact of knowledge and value. The book locates this problematic among an Afro-Brazilian male youth collective who, since 1997, have fictionalized everyday experiences in a role-playing game set in a hand-built miniature model of Rio. In this 4,000-square-foot space in the forest abutting their neighborhood, they constructed a city out of bricks and myriad found objects. Drawing on conceptualizations of play situating it at the center rather than the peripheries of social life, Model Favela traces how the so-called regularization of daily life for working-poor Brazilians comprise ludic, albeit very serious, encounters.”