The Political Career, Agenda and Narratives of Marielle Franco : An Intersectional Analysis

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202012155166
Title: The Political Career, Agenda and Narratives of Marielle Franco : An Intersectional Analysis
Author: Karjalainen, Ninni
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Maailman kulttuurien laitos 2010-2017
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of World Cultures 2010-2017
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för världens kulturer 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202012155166
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/323100
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: alue- ja kulttuurintutkimus
Area and Cultural Studies
Region- och kulturstudier
Abstract: This thesis examines the political career, agenda and narratives of Marielle Franco, a former city councillor of Rio de Janeiro. Franco ran for political office the first time in the municipal elections of 2016. Her campaign contained the demands of women and sexual minorities, black people and favela residents. With 46,502 votes, she was the fifth most voted-for council member. The councilwoman was assassinated on March 14, 2018, after leaving an event of black feminist activists. Her death was followed by rallies in several Brazilian cities. Many of the core organisers of these mass mobilisations were black women, and their actions ensured media visibility for the case. In the general elections of 2018, three cabinet members of Marielle Franco were elected to the State Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj), defending her political legacy. The primary sources of the thesis comprise of speeches, campaign material, interviews and articles of Marielle Franco as well as public hearings, reports and other records of her term which lasted for fifteen months. The data also includes material produced by black women’s movements following the councilwoman’s assassination. The thesis approaches this material through counter-narrative methodology, which aims to integrate marginalised communities’ voices and perspectives into the research agenda. The aim of the research is to contextualise the political career and agenda of Marielle Franco as a ‘black woman from the favela of Maré’. To that end, the research draws from an intersectional theoretical framework, deploying it as an analytical tool. Intersectionality theorises the relationships between socio-cultural categories and identities. This thesis applies the intracategorical approach, entailing an in-depth study of a particular social group. The analysis focuses on low- income black women. Brazilian black women are disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class and gender. They often work in the informal sector and are disproportionately affected by poverty. Race and gender discrimination prevent them from accessing positions of power. In 2016, the year when Marielle Franco was elected, black women comprised of more than 25% of the population, but represented only 5% of all elected councillors. Their exclusion from political institutions, where decisions concerning their lives are taken, render low-income black women vulnerable to governmental neglect and violations of their and their family members’ fundamental human rights. The election of Marielle Franco was considered as a breakthrough in local politics and seen as an opportunity to change oppressive power structures. The analysis reveals that the councilwoman empowered black women and favela residents to participate party politics in multiple ways. Franco brought their voices, bodies and demands into the institutional domain, and her powerful speeches voiced the concerns of black mothers resisting the state violence within their communities. She also asserted solidarity as part of an alternative political practice of black feminists. Besides being a councillor, Franco was also a scholar and a front- line human rights defender. The analysis also found that Franco’s conception of human rights was based on the praxis developed in the Human Rights Commission of Alerj and centered on the black women of the favelas and urban outskirts. The counter-narratives deployed by Franco emphasised the legacy of feminist movements, including their leaders and symbols. She campaigned for recognising and valuing social differences and fought against all forms of discrimination within political institutions. Her politics and narratives continue to inspire young Brazilian women, particularly black women from the favelas and the urban peripheries.
Subject: Marielle Franco
Low-Income Black Women
Favela
Activism
Human Rights
Black Feminism
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil
Counter-Narratives
Intersectionality


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