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Maré from the Inside

Maré from the Inside was on exhibit at the Newman Library at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg from 2020-2021. Photo credit: Neda Moayerian.


Authors as Published

Title of Project: Maré from the Inside & the Maré Research Group

Principal Investigators (PI): Dr. Desirée Poets, Assistant Professor, VT Department of Political Science; Professor Max Stephenson Jr., School of Public and International Affairs and Director, VT Institute for Policy and Governance; Nicholas Barnes, Lecturer, University of St. Andrews

Co-Investigators: Andreza Jorge, Maré-born researcher, community organizer, and current ASPECT PhD student at Virginia Tech, Henrique Gomes da Silva, Maré cultural producer, researcher, and community organizer; Molly Todd, ASPECT PhD candidate.

Maré Research Group: Desirée Poets, Max Stephenson Jr., Neda Moayerian (Assistant Professor, University of Tehran, School of Planning), Catherine Grimes (Graduate School, Virginia Tech), Molly Todd (ASPECT PhD program, Virginia Tech), Vanessa Guerra (Assistant Professor, University of Virginia School of Environmental and Urban Planning), and Claire Cahen (Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs).

Key Community Partners: Redes da Maré

Key University Partners: Newman Library, El Centro, Department of Political Science

Description of Project:

The project's significance lies in its interrelated political, conceptual and methodological interventions. It aims to address the overarching misrepresentation of Maré residents in one of Rio's favelas, and the foundational roots of that narrative.

1) It promotes a set of political and cultural strategies that support greater democratization of Brazilian society by combating decades of highly repressive public security policies in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (informal, working-class neighborhoods), where the number of killings by police reached 1,810 in 2019;

2) It strengthens and expands a network of scholars and activists capable of bridging Global South-North divides, and the borders between academia, social movements, NGOs and the arts;

3) It develops more horizontal relations between favela communities in Rio and academic institutions and communities in the Global North.

Project Outcomes:

The project resulted in the exhibition of a virtual and in-person photo and video collection, and accompanying book in English and Portuguese, as well as several talks and presentations. The Newman Library exhibit was open to the public from December 2020 to September 2021. The exhibit also traveled to the University of Virginia in March and April of 2022. The nexus of researchers and community activists was supported in parallel by a research group focused on community and individual agency in the favelas.

Project Materials:

Barnes, N., Poets, D., & Stephenson, Jr., M. O. (2021). Maré from the Inside: Art, Culture and Politics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Blacksburg: Virginia Tech Publishing. DOI:

Barnes, N., Poets, D., & Stephenson, Jr., M. (2021). Maré de Dentro: Arte, Cultura e Política no Rio de Janeiro. Blacksburg: Virginia Tech Publishing. DOI:

University of Virginia Urban and Environmental Planning Professor Vanessa Guerra is featured for her work on the project.

Poets, D., Grimes, C., Stephenson, M., Moayerian, N., & Todd, M. (2023). Care-based community communication, capacity, and agency during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from the complexo da maré favela, Brazil. World Development Perspectives, 30, 100508. 

Deffenbaugh, D. (2023, December 12). "Community engagement takes researcher from Brazil to Blacksburg and back again." Virginia Tech News.

Maré from the Inside Exhibit online and at Newman Library, Virginia Tech, December 1, 2020-September 30, 2021. 

Maré from the Inside Exhibit at Elmaleh Galley, University of Virginia School of Architecture, March 25-April 22, 2022.

Desirée Poets, Max Stephenson, Molly Todd, and Andreza Jorge discuss their recent book, Maré from the Inside: Art, Culture and Politics in Rio de Janeiro BrazilThis talk was delivered at an ASPECT Books event, held virtually on March 17, 2022. 

This roundtable at UVA on March 25, 2022, entitled "Urban [In]formality, Social Resilience, and Social Imaginaries," reflects on how the exhibit highlights the agential character of a population often targeted with discrimination, how a misleading social imaginary mediates possibilities in communities it affects, how difficult it can be for communities popularly tagged as “less than” to be heard in public policy circles, and how they must work doubly hard to be “seen.” Roundtable participants: Henrique Gomes da Silva, Andreza Jorge, Max Stephenson Jr., and Desiree Poets from Virginia Tech, as well as Barbara Brown Wilson (Associate Professor) and Vanessa Guerra (Assistant Professor) with the University of Virginia Urban and Environmental Planning program.

Publication Date

November 1, 2022

Localities: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Charlottesville, VA, USA

Project Period: 2019-current

Total Funding:  $21,250

Funding Sources:              VT CLAHS Departmental Diversity Grant;                  VT Political Science;        VTIPG;                                  VT Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention