This is a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, led by ARN members Julian Brigstocke and Claire Blencowe, with Rio de Janeiro based researchers Joanna Garcia and Rosana Morgado, in collaboration with the NGO Redes da Maré.
Working with women living in an informal urban community ('favela') that suffers high levels of stigma, poverty, violence, and human rights abuses, our project explores the role played by favela dwellers in challenging and transforming the sometimes stifling emotional atmospheres of the city. The project explores how embodied, non-representational creative
practices can enable distressing experiences to be communicated, shared, and creatively transformed. Developing participatory research methods that aim to foster dignity and tackle feelings of isolation and alienation, we focus on women's encounters with the varied atmospheres of the favela: sometimes tense, stifling, or terrifying; often, simultaneously, full of warmth, security, and humour. Working to recognise, affirm, and amplify creative practices through which women in the community are already seeking to overcome feelings of stress and isolation, our research explores how embodied cultural practices can help women develop new understandings and insights into the issues facing them, and reduce barriers to participation in community leadership and advocacy. Our research practices aim to enable emerging understandings to be articulated, shared, and translated into practices that work to reduce violence and promote dignity and community authority.