Black Bodies, Wrong Places: Rolezinho, Moral Panic, and Racialized Male Subjects in Brazil

 

Police Action at Vitoria Shopping Mall. Video frame from YouTube, 2013; www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoLa1Rw42b8

In this chapter, I present an interpretation of a Brazilian social phenomenon known as rolezinho, the gathering of crowds of impoverished black teenagers, usually in shopping centers, to listen to funk music, and the new social subject that this phenomenon mobilized. Using newspaper articles, videos, and other texts produced from the moment the phenomenon first started in the city of Vitoria in November 2013 up through February 2014, when rolezinhos seemed to fade from public attention, this chapter explores how interpretations of rolezinho in the media helped to build its sociological meaning and define the course of events in which it developed. I point to a moral panic that set the frame for the rolezinho’s spectacularized history, and then ask how processes of subjectification, marked by inequality, violence, racism, and contradictory relationships with the state and the market, are the basis of agency for the young people involved, precisely because subjectivity and performative agency appear to define the political and explosive content of the phenomenon.

 

Pinho, Osmundo. “Black Bodies, Wrong Places. Rolezinho, Moral Panic and racialized male subjects in Brazil”. In: Seigel, Micol (org.) Panic, Transnacional Cultural Studies, and affective contours of power. New York: Routledge, 2018. pp. 158-178