The language that came down the hill: Slang, crime, and citizenship in Rio de Janeiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the register of slang has historically been embraced to forge salient social and spatial distinctions, demarcating the physical space of the favela (shantytown) and naturalizing the exclusion of its residents. In this article, I examine the ongoing enregisterment of slang in Rio's current context of profound social inequality, democratic instability, heightened urban violence, and geographic proximity. Within this climate of fear and insecurity, newly vulnerable and newly marginalized city residents draw on and reify salient speech repertoires to negotiate rights to the city and to the nation-state that have become increasingly threatened along socioeconomic, racial, and residential lines. I argue that the enregisterment of slang constructs newly emergent citizenship categories that both challenge and reinforce Brazil's entrenched regime of differentiated citizenship, illuminating the productive role of linguistic differentiation in the modern nation-state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume111
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

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nation state
citizenship
Brazil
offense
resident
social inequality
language
exclusion
climate
regime
violence
anxiety
linguistics
Language
Crime
Citizenship
Rio De Janeiro
Slang
Nation-state
Salient

Keywords

  • Brazil
  • Citizenship
  • Crime
  • Marginality
  • Slang

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Cite this

The language that came down the hill : Slang, crime, and citizenship in Rio de Janeiro. / Roth Gordon, Jennifer F.

In: American Anthropologist, Vol. 111, No. 1, 2009, p. 57-68.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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