Accepted paper:

Social grammars of hope: from theory to practices


Maria Claudia Coelho (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)
Susana Durão (UNICAMP (São Paulo, Brazil))

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the role hope plays in strategies for social intervention designed by a NGO (Cultural Group AfroReggae) in order to deal with urban violence in Rio de Janeiro. It intends to contribute to a broader understanding of the relations between emotions, temporality and political action.

Paper long abstract:

Hope is, by definition, an emotional state. But it seems to be simultaneously a feeling and an action, since it produces some 'ideas', 'things' or 'results', and is moved by desire and a sense of mediated future. Therefore, hope is eminently dependent on contexts, persons and relations. Hope can be defined as the opposite of utopia - the perfect ideal of society or political system that occurs in an ever elusive future. Bearing this crucial difference in mind, we will revise some influent literature on the anthropology and ethnography of hope, against the background of some major trends in the anthropology of emotions. Secondly, we will show how in some 'cultural movements' in Rio de Janeiro people are moved by a sense of hope, combining social imaginaries where it would be possible to cope with the instability produced by urban violence without moral damages. Likewise, we will try to clarify the grammars and micro-politics of hope designed by people engaged in those movements when considering the demanding livelihood in Rio's favelas. The requisite for local and personal 'development' would be the ability to imagine the after-violence cityscape while living in the present. The daily work of hope enables each one of the participants to pass through violence while transforming it in a cultural experience and in mediated objects.

panel W002
Ethnographies of hope