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by Richard Meckien - published Apr 05, 2014 11:10 AM - - last modified Feb 15, 2021 12:20 PM

São Remo
Houses in Jardim São Remo, a community close to USP

The view of part of the Brazilian population on favelas and urban peripheries is often loaded with representations and stigmas that hinder a broad understanding of the social reality of people living there. Distorted views can imprecisely direct public policies and private investments in these spaces.

nPeriferias, a new research group based at the IEA, proposes to investigate themes related to these regions in order to produce works that have a social impact and develop new theories and knowledge.

After being the holder of the Olavo Setubal Chair of Art, Culture and Science in 2018, Eliana Sousa Silva brought about an idea of creating a new group for interaction with low-income communities in São Paulo. The nPeriferias Research Group was approved in the end of 2019 under the coordination of professor and researcher Gislene Aparecida dos Santos, and vice-coordination of Martin Grossmann, also the academic coordinator of the Chair. List of nPeriferias's researchers.

According to the coordinators, the group will have a unique and necessary dynamic of performance and knowledge production. "Today, even though there are projects and studies aimed at understanding these issues and the dynamics of cities seeking to eliminate the effects of exclusion and vulnerability, investigations that take people from the peripheries as proposing agents are rare," they explain in the project. The proposal for launching nPeriferias was presented and approved by IEA's Board on December 3, 2019.

In the group's view, projects that take the periphery as the object of studies "do not usually consider the fundamental involvement of the peripheral subjects in their elaborations and development." Therefore, nPeriferias will investigate the peripheries through the voices of these people, "constituting itself as a space for the formation of intellectuals, leaders, and researchers from the periphery."

Extended periphery

The concept adopted by the group for "periphery" transcends the merely geographical dimension of urban location. "True complexities formed by diversities, pluralities, singularities, inequalities, and paradoxes," according to the coordinators, the peripheries also have a symbolic understanding, which includes certain social groups, such as women, indigenous people, blacks, LGBT+, immigrants, and refugees. Even if eventually located in central spaces of the city, "they are dimensioned as peripheral by multiple processes of exclusion and oppression." The research group will also consider the relationship between humans and animals as fundamental in the contexts of the peripheries.

In addition to paying attention to the violence and stigmatization suffered by these groups, the members of nPeriferias also intend to analyze other types of aggression that occur in the peripheries, "in particular those involving the activities of armed civil groups and the presence of the State via policing, from a paradigm that violates basic rights of the populations of the peripheries."

Among other aspects that the group intends to address there are unequal relations between men and women, and the high incidence of violence against women, as well as the difficulties faced by the elderly and people with disabilities in these regions, considering "their condition of vulnerability and little access to goods, services, and rights."


The research projects will be organized around two thematic axes. The first, "Social Structures and Dynamics," aims to identify and investigate patterns or regularities in social, economic, and health indicators. The second, "Construction of Peripheral Knowledge, Epistemologies, and Diversities", aims to discuss epistemologies or the production of knowledge from peripheral subjects in a broader sense.

The research project will cover different themes, with 11 main ones guiding the work: arts and cultures; law, social justice, and access to justice; human rights and diversity; education and work; gender and sexuality; poverty and inequality; public policy; race and ethnicity; health and environment; public security and violence; and technology, and technological and social innovations.

In addition to these themes, the concept of periphery itself will be subject of debates, evaluated both in terms of the term associated with territoriality and its symbolic meanings.

According to the coordinators, the broad base of research possibilities will yield a production of knowledge about the social and collective movements of these spaces, and also of the laws and public policies, in order to create instruments for monitoring and evaluation. Another objective is to develop cartographies that allow an adequate understanding of the physical space of the peripheries.

Within USP, the group hopes to introduce the topic in research, teaching, and extension activities, with the aim of knowledge production becoming capable of supporting future University governance actions in relation to the surrounding communities and, also, so that the University becomes a source of data and indicators on the topic.

Contact the group by email: