Research Matters

Research Matters


Paul Sneed helped establish the Two Brothers Foundation to create educational opportunities in Rocinha, the largest squatter town in Rio de Janeiro. He couples his community work with scholarly investigations into life in the favela.

Episode #74

2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3


Scholarly investigation stems from community work in a Brazilian "favela." From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Paul Sneed, professor of Spanish and Portuguese at KU, helped establish the Two Brothers Foundation to create educational opportunities in Rocinha, the largest squatter town, or "favela," in Rio de Janeiro. His involvement stems from a year spent in Rio as an undergraduate.

Sneed: Whenever I'd wait for my bus, I'd see Rocinha, the enormous squatter town, extending across the forested hillside just across from the beach. It was pretty intimidating because of the stories I'd read in the newspaper at the time and the reputation of the neighborhood."

Despite its reputation, Sneed was captivated by life in the city's notorious slum.

Sneed: The faith and friendliness of the people, the strong sense of community ... I had a strong emotional connection with people and sensed it was a place where it was easy to be yourself. I fell in love with it pretty quickly.

Later Sneed set up the Two Brothers Foundation to create educational opportunities for favela residents.

Sneed: We've created a three-story community center there. It has a library, it has a computer lab, it has classrooms and it's been running for some time. There are researchers, interns and volunteers from maybe 50 different countries, as well as people from Rocinha that have experience with everyday life there.

While serving with his nonprofit, Sneed also pursues his own research into the culture of the favela.

Sneed: Since I came to KU, I really got interested in performance studies. I started thinking about the outdoor street dances sponsored by gangsters in Rocinha. By looking at these performance spaces and live spaces of power, it enabled me to look at other areas of activity in the in the community that are less associated with entertainment.

For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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Community work in Brazilian 'favela' earns KU researcher notice in United States

A University of Kansas researcher recently was spotlighted in a documentary featured on for his community and cultural work in Rocinha, the largest squatter town, or "favela," in Rio de Janeiro.

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