University of Notre Dame
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Stefanie IsraelStefanie Israel de Souza

PhD Fellow

I am a proud native of Oregon, though in recent years I have lived in Mexico, Brazil, and Philadelphia, before moving to South Bend (and soon to Rio de Janeiro for a year!). I received my M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Palmer Theological Seminary in 2011 and my B.A. from Linfield College in 2006 with majors in Sociology and Religious Studies and minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies. After college, I spent a year-and-a-half working as a social educator at a faith-based community center in a large favela in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, before returning to study in the U.S.

I am a PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department at Notre Dame. My areas of interest include urban sociology, social networks, political sociology, cultural sociology, and social movements. I currently teach Intro to Criminology.

For my dissertation research, I am conducting a comparative ethnography of Rio de Janeiro’s pacified favelas. These informal settlements are undergoing rapid change on a number of levels as a result of pacification, a proximity policing program aimed at undermining the longstanding territorial domination of armed drug traffickers in select favelas. My research explores the social change occurring in four “pacified” communities on very different trajectories. I have been closely following one of these communities since 2012 via summer research trips. I plan to return for a year of fieldwork in 2016 to investigate changes that occur surrounding the crucial period of Rio’s hosting of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, heeding the advice of favela residents I interviewed in 2012 who told me to come back in 2016. My dissertation research has been funded by a Fulbright Study-Research Grant, a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and a USAID-Notre Dame Global Development Fellowship.

On the eve of the World Cup in 2014, my research in the favelas unexpectedly intersected with another project I was a part of on protests in Brazil, as I recount in this write-up I did for the Kellogg Institute.

Outside of my life as a sociologist, I’m also an avid yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor. I teach Holistic Yoga Flow, a style developed by my gurus, Travis Eliot and Lauren Eckstrom. I am passionate about making yoga available to those who would never set foot in a yoga studio. I currently teach a weekly community class at the Near Northwest Neighborhood here in South Bend and plan to offer free community classes in the favelas where I will be conducting my dissertation research in 2016.

Download CV here.




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