When the River Has No Fish: Community Organizing in Rio de Janeiro

Wendy Muse Sinek

April 7, 2010

Event description

Despite the fact that residents of Rio’s slums (favelas) have a rich associational life, community leaders rarely translate their activism into making demands on elected officials. Political channels are often unavailable or co-opted due to the presence of drug trafficking gangs. Nevertheless, community organizers are taking advantage of the space that remains, finding resourceful ways to improve their neighborhoods. This talk will describe the political, economic and social factors that affect community organizing in Rio’s favelas and expand on some of the innovative solutions that local community leaders have created.


Wendy Muse Sinek is a visiting instructor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley. She has recently completed 18 months of research on community organizing strategies in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.