Urban to Virtual; Responses to Exclusionary Designs in Public Space in Rio de Janeiro
Fear of urban violence is shown in the literature to be a tool for sustaining exclusionary designs in public spaces. The work will identify the relationship between participation in virtual worlds and urban violence as challenges to the physical segregations in city life. The goal of the work is to finance programs of participation in virtual worlds that result in a non-violent and effective response to segregated urban environments.
Current discussions on the topic include first and foremost the work of Gilberto Gil, Brazil's Minister of Culture. His work encouraged participation in virtual worlds for inner city youth as a new response to segregated space in urban centers. Secondly, the discussion is supplemented by virtual networks in Rio de Janeiro such as Observatorio de Favelas do Rio de Janeiro, Central Unica das Favelas, and Viva Rio. Thirdly, as the literature extensively examines “the public” in city space, this project proposes to supplement the discussion by focusing on virtual worlds as legitimate responses to spatial segregation and their potential for social change.
The method of the research is to quantify the relationship between urban violence and participation in virtual worlds. To do so, regression analysis will first evaluate four main variables. These include access to technological resources, crime indexes of the targeted area, changes in criminal law since Web 2.0 technology, and rates of participation in virtual worlds. Counterfactually, if the efficacy of virtual worlds as legitimate challenges to authority is not sufficient, then thresholds for acceptable levels of time spent in virtual worlds may exist that diminish the efficacy of spatial segregation.
The feasibility of the exploratory research project is based upon the help of mentors and work experience with many organizations and contacts in Brazil such as Gilberto Gil, Brazil's Minister of Culture. Specifically, the logistics of gathering data on changes in the legal code and crime indexes will be collected in concert with Viva Rio. Statistics on economic variables of access to technological resources will be aided by work experience with Jose Murilo Jr., Ministry of Culture and Viva Rio. Research on information regarding criminal law will also be assisted by Professor David Fonseca, New York University. Research on virtual worlds in Brazil will be assisted by the USC Center for Public Diplomacy and the Annenberg Center for Communication. Overall consultation on the social framework of the research has been aided by Professor Saskia Sassen, London School of Economics. The project plans to spend 8 months collecting data and further establishing relationships with the aforementioned organizations and individuals before traveling to Brazil. Upon arrival, the project proposes a two-week course of interviews with youth registered as members in aforementioned virtual networks. Surveys as well as government issued data from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Justice will be aided with the help of Jose Murilo Jr. and the New York City based group, Global Cities.
The research is important for the student's future course of academic study as it offers the last opportunity the student has to study in Brazil before writing the Senior Honors Thesis for the International Relations Program, NYU. Future study in Brazil is also central to the student's affiliation with the USC Center for Public Diplomacy and this study would be a necessary first step towards any formal commitment to academic interest or matriculation into their Public Diplomacy program. With this grant, the student will be able to begin a life-long participation in dialogs on Brazilian studies, history, and the ability for Brazil to change historical events in an international framework of interdependent progress and stability.