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Title: Local content and embeddedness on the internet : following the texts and practices of bloggers from a Brazilian favela
Author: Holmes, Victoria Esther
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 8066
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis considers how residents of a favela (shantytown) in the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil use the internet to publish and disseminate content, particularly on blogs, which puts forward their own representations of the area where they live. The interdisciplinary and ethnographically inspired approach taken in this thesis links content published on blogs to the practices involved in its publication and circulation, in a wider 'communicative ecology' of local content creation incorporating other internet platforms, as well as print media. The emergence of web 2.0 has widened the possibilities for the production of local content by ordinary people, at the same time as it has paved the way for a broader understanding and application of the term 'local content', outside of projects which include the publication and dissemination of such content as a goal. Whilst place remains a crucially important reference in people's use of the internet, the internet is also a medium through which to explore and develop affiliations which go beyond place. This thesis includes a critical and theoretical exploration of what the 'local' means in the context of the internet, and draws on networked theories of place and locality. It proposes that local content can be understood as the expression of a potentially plural and diverse ecology of locality constructed around (and by) individuals, incorporating multiple locations and interests. Sectors of Brazilian society, and in particular the mainstream media, tend to homogenise favelas and to portray them as territories of violence, crime and poverty, which are not recognised as part of the official city. These dominant representations remain an important reference which favela residents attempt to work against when producing their own content. Favela residents publishing internet content with an awareness of its potential translocal visibility are thus particularly concerned with place, and with the affirmation of the territorial embeddedness of their content as a way of combatting the stigmatisation of their neighbourhoods. The thesis presents three detailed case studies focusing on the work of specific content creators from the same Rio de Janeiro favela, showing how they employ different practices to explicitly anchor their content in a particular geographical location, at the same time as they affirm the favela where they live as an integral part of the city, which is also connected to other favelas and urban periphery neighbourhoods through shared perspectives and concerns. This local content can be understood as part of a broader trend towards the increased visibility of the Brazilian urban periphery in recent years, both as a result of projects set up by non-governmental organisations, and independent cultural production by favela residents. Whilst the internet, and digital technologies more broadly speaking, have been an important factor in this visibility, this thesis argues that despite the innovative and dynamic nature of Brazilian digital culture, and the rising levels of internet access by favela residents in Rio de Janeiro, a more nuanced assessment of the effects and implications of digital culture is required. Access to the internet by favela residents in Rio de Janeiro and their use of this medium for the publication and dissemination of more diverse (self-)representations of favelas has challenged some hierarchies, but by no means removed them. The empirical insights provided by this thesis show how a local content approach, which is both conceptual and methodological, can shed new light on internet practices and representations of the local within a specific context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available