PUCRS’ former graduate student earns recognition for best thesis in Social Sciences in Brazil

Marcelli Cipriani Rodrigues won national award at National Association of Graduate Studies and Research in Social Sciences

26/03/2021 - 15h19

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Having completed her Master’s at the School of Humanities’ Graduate Program in Social Sciences, Marcelli Cipriani Rodrigues won the award for best thesis in Brazil, at the National Association of Graduate Studies and Research in Social Sciences (ANPOCS) of Best Thesis and Dissertation in Social Sciences 2020. Marcelli was advised by Dr. Rodrigo Ghiringhelli de Azevedo, and looked into the relationship between the increase in the number of homicides in Porto Alegre and the reduction in the number of these crimes in the city’s jail.

The thesis titled Os coletivos criminais de Porto Alegre entre a “paz” na prisão e a guerra na rua (Criminal groups of Porto Alegre between “peace” in prison and war in the streets) had already been awarded in the regional leg in December, representing the South and the Center-West. After that, it was selected by an international jury as the best thesis in Brazil in the area.

In the view of Dr Rafael Madeira, coordinator of the Graduate Program in Social Sciences, this recognition reinforces the program’s commitment to excellence. “The award won by Marcelli is a consequence of the excellence of her work. This award also highlights the quality of the work developed in our graduate program – represented here by Rodrigo Ghiringhelli de Azevedo, Marcelli’s advisor – in the training of graduate students. Finally, it should be noted that this achievement is yet another consistent indicator of the presence of PUCRS in graduate programs in Brazil”, he adds.

Movements of war and peace

In her research, Marcelli investigated the relationship between the progressive reduction in the number of deaths, riots and rebellions in the Public Jail of Porto Alegre – the “pacification” – and the considerable increase in homicides outside the prison, during the period that became known as “the war of the factions”. “The findings of my research indicated that the war resulted from the reorganization of criminal actions in the city. Not only did criminals organize themselves in criminal groups, but also developed their actions in two major fronts: alliances composed of various groups and networks of favors and services that mark, by contrast, who the enemies are.

As a result, the confrontations took on another dimension, from the micro local scale – occasional confrontations between one and another group – to a scale that involves a range of allies and enemies. Also, the war was not primarily associated with territorial disputes, but with the affirmation of power and the need to disqualify rivals. This gave homicides a symbolic character, as it became a permanent means through which it was possible to provoke the rival.

“On the other hand, I have found that, in order to consolidate themselves on the streets, these groups make use of the prison spaces, where large commercial exchanges are established and strategic alliances are made. During the war, this strategy made it possible for new members to get into this system – and, then, such alliances were established in the urban territory “, Marcelli explains.

However, in order to ensure the autonomy and control of the prison galleries, prisoners must ensure that the system is in “peace”, and carry out numerous functions and activities necessary for the daily operation of the prison. Thus, “pacification” has become advantageous for both criminal groups and the administration: the former gets stronger and bigger, whereas the second ensures that the prison continues to “work” without major problems, despite low investments in the system and personnel and rampant imprisonment rates.