1st Edition

Disappearances and Police Killings in Contemporary Brazil The Politics of Life and Death

By Sabrina Villenave Copyright 2022
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    The book offers an interdisciplinary qualitative study of the history of policing in Brazil and its colonial underpinnings, providing theoretical accounts of the relationship between biopolitics, space, and race, and post-colonial/decolonial work on the state, violence, and the production of disposable political subjects.

    Focused empirically on contemporary (1985-2015) police killings and disappearances in favelas, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, the books argues that the invisibility of this phenomenon is the product of a colonial mindset – one that has persisted throughout Brazil’s experience of both dictatorship and re-democratisation and is traceable to the legacies of the Portuguese empire and the plantation system implemented. Analysing the development of the police as a colonial mechanism of social control, Villenave shows how the "war on drugs" reproduces this same colonial logic and renders some, overwhelmingly black, lives disposable and thus vulnerable to unchecked police brutality and death.

    It will be of interest to students and scholars of international politics and also contributes to critical security studies, postcolonial and de-colonial thought, global politics, the politics of Latin America and political geography.


    Chapter 1 – Between a revealed past and a treacherous present

    Chapter 2 – Between nation-building and modernity

    Chapter 3 – The police apparatus: Between highly noticeable killings and unnoticed disappearances

    Chapter 4 – Black Bodies the meat of lowest value in the market

    Chapter 5 – Hidden in plain sight: liminal spatiality in Brazil

    Concluding thoughts


    Sabrina Villenave is affiliated at the University of Manchester, at the Department of Politics. Her research interest focuses on Critical Security Studies and its late critique on race and racialization. She is interested in postcolonial and decolonial critiques of International Relations, and in the legacies of African Slave Trade organized by the Portuguese Empire. Currently she is working with the themes of "War on Drugs" in Brazil as a legitimizer of police violence against favela dwellers, under the frame of exceptionality, security apparatus and the depoliticization of disappearances after the dictatorship in the country under the theoretical frame of necropolitics.