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Center for the Study of Violence


a) Description of the Center and its characteristic features: born during the transition from military rule to democracy in 1988, the Núcleo de Estudos da Violência, basis for the proposed Center, was conceived as an interdisciplinary academic center for the study of the persistence of human rights violations and resistance to the rule of law during the democratization process. The Núcleo differs from other research centers inside and outside the University by its concern for intervention in the public debate and for the dissemination of research results to society at large. This concern derives from its commitment to social change. Thus the Núcleo is involved in informing societal debate on the issues that it studies. As result of these efforts it has become a source of information for the media, for non-governmental organizations, specially human rights activists, as well as for some government agencies; b) definition of research focus and of its interdisciplinary connections: The Núcleo focuses its studies on one of the main neglected issues in democratic transition studies, the continued gross human rights violations. The criminal justice system seems to fail to deter such violations. Justice seems also to fail to guarantee access to broad human rights. This means that deep economic inequalities become inequality in access to rights and justice. At the limit this unchallenged inequality threatens the exercise of civil and political rights. Democracy co-exists with long-standing authoritarian legacies. The research program here proposed seeks to explain the persistence of the obstacles for human rights in a context of high impunity for serious criminal offenses and their role in democratic consolidation explore the roots for this persistence by: 1- continuing to monitor the gross human rights violations through the data basis on gross human rights violations and on public security and justice; 2- reconstructing the history of punishment in Brazil in particular in Sao Paulo (Since 1822) to identify the relations between violence and punishment; 3- identifying and assessing the level of criminal impunity; 4- identifying the conceptions of justice, rights and punishment as related to human rights; 5- producing a theory of human rights integrated with a sociology of social conflicts and democratic transition. The questions posed by the research will be answered by contributions from the fields of Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, Social Psychology, History, Economy, Urban Planning and Law; c) description of planned technology transfer and educational activities and of their relationship to the research focus. The Center proposes to extend its present activities in education and technology transfer. The following tools and strategies have been developed and will be refined: 1- informed structured discussions workshops with practitioners from areas researched to discuss and thus disseminate research results. Results from workshops are included in the final versions of the investigation reports and circulated among contributors and their comments incorporated in the final report; 2- information dissemination to the general public through seminars and the media, inviting the media to produce documentaries that can be distributed to interested audiences; 3- public lectures by ‘Guest lecturers’ exposing Visiting Fellows to a broader university audience and also to different groups of professionals outside the university; from the public and the private sector; 4- government officials to influence public policies and actions concerning human rights by collaborative efforts such as the design of the Brazilian National Human Rights Program when research results and consultations with non-governmental organizations were used to inform the Human Rights Secretariat about societal expectations, needs and demands; 5- in terms of transfer of knowledge assisting the formation of the Instituto São Paulo contra a Violência grouping industrialists, trade and commerce, banking, insurance companies and advertising federations along with representatives from NGO's and the University of Sao Paulo and the Getulio Vargas Business School to prevent violence; 5.1- close working relationship with human rights groups: Teotonio Vilela Commission for Human Rights a non-profit NGO, Americas Watch, Amnesty International, the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, CEIJIL, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva; 5.2- international academic network with institutions in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America, as means of exchanging information and sharing experience: University of Ottawa, Columbia University; Le Groupe Europeen de Recherches sur la Normatlvites, Conseil National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre d'Analyses et d'investigations Sociologiques and Centre de Recherches Sociologiques sur Ie Droit et les Instituions Penales in Paris; Universidade de Coimbra; Universidad Central de Venezuela; Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Buenos Aires; 6- one of the major tasks is to provide further research training to university students both at graduate and at post graduate level. Students are encouraged to produce dissertations and theses. Students also participate in the organization of seminars, lectures and public events; 7- formal continued education programs and postgraduate training in human rights are two of the new initiatives here proposed as well as a more intensive use of internet facilities; d) brief justification for the creation of a research center. The existence of the Núcleo is justified on the grounds of the complexity and persistence of the problems researched. High level of gross human rights violations and systemic violence survive without accountability despite of the transition to democracy, a strong commitment to democracy on the part of the State and of society, a highly sophisticated media and a good record of the functioning of the formal aspects of political freedom (free elections, multi-party system, etc.). Violations resist even organized efforts by the State and civil Society to implement a National Human Rights Program. The causes of this resistance to human rights are little explored in the national and international literature. Why large groups of people condone and sometimes even participate in extreme violence committed against groups of people and individuals remains an intellectual and scientific challenge. This kind of intellectual and scientific challenge demand an interdisciplinary approach: no singe field of knowledge can provide answers to the questions posed. This brought together social scientists to approach the political, sociological, and psychological aspects as well as the historical, economical, legal and urban perspectives of the subject. This led to the formation of the Núcleo with the following goals: I) to provide a special forum for discussion and research around this subject; II) to build and disseminate data basis on gross human rights violations as means of monitor this society as well as to compare societies; III) to organize and systematize literature on the subject and provide students, scholars and practitioners with up to date information and data; IV) to disseminate research results to society in order to inform public opinion and hopefully to contribute to reduce the resistance to human rights; and V) to participate in the design of public policies aimed at the protection of rights. These objectives are long-term ones and their achievement demands continued efforts. Center now proposed will allow the consolidation of such initiatives; e) description of facilities offered as counterpart by the participating Institutions. The Núcleo is located in the Sao Paulo campus of the University of Sao Paulo and is research support center linked to the Pro-Rector of Research. The University provides: i) two professors (one from the Department of Political Science and one from the Department of Sociology), one person in charge of international relations (fellows and exchange programs), one person in charge of finances and three scholarships for students (librarian and two research assistants); ii) some assistance to research from its research fund; iii) the building occupied, plus telephone, access to internet, security, cleaning services, water and electricity. The facilities in the campus include libraries giving access to computerized data bases: Sociofile, CD-Mark biblio, Humanities Index, MLA International bibl., Docpal, Lilacs and Psyclit, Abi Inform or Disc Medline, Popline, amongst others. All libraries have access to IBICCT -ROM a catalogue of Brazilian theses and periodicals, and Unibibli which catalogues all theses and books available in all libraries of the three State Universities: Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) and Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). The Núcleo has a computer network and a medium sized specialized library (open to the public) acquired through research grants. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
Permitted Violence 
La violencia consentida 
Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
SALLA, FERNANDO; GAUTO, MAITÊ; ALVAREZ, MARCOS C.. A contribuição de David Garland: a sociologia da punição. Tempo Social, revista de sociologia da USP, v. 18, n. 1, p. 329-350, . (98/14262-5)
CAREN RUOTTI; TAÍS VIUDES DE FREITAS; JULIANA FELICIANO DE ALMEIDA; MARIA FERNANDA TOURINHO PERES. Graves violações de direitos humanos e desigualdade no município de São Paulo. Revista de Saúde Pública, v. 43, n. 3, p. 533-540, . (98/14262-5)

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