David Nemer

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David Nemer is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia.


  • Extreme right-wing groups work tirelessly to delegitimise the democratic institutions in Brazil. These groups make and distribute fake news as a way to take advantage of people's fears and vulnerabilities. As people hope for a solution and as a fix to the fears, they promote the narrative of pro-military intervention.

Favela Digital: The other side of technology, 2013[edit]

Favela Digital: The other side of technology/O outro lado da tecnologia. GSA Grafica e Editora. (2013)
  • You may notice a stark disconnect between the favela and digital technologies used there. This is not due to lack of education in the slum, but rather to a lack of education of those who develop the technologies without knowing the favela.
    • p. 12
  • Informal education and situated knowledge in the favelas become powerful weapons to promote digital inclusion since formal education imposed on residents is decontextualized and no longer meets their needs, if it ever did.
    • p. 38
  • Favelas, as well as other areas of social abandonment, are clear examples of how the problematique of digital inequalities goes beyond the purchase of physical technology. Such places are filled with digital gadgets but their use seems to lack content and significance. This is a reflection of the current situation of our favelas, without basic education, autonomy, and consciousness. It is necessary to pay attention to these factors as digital technology will not solve the problems it did not cause.
    • p. 46
  • This premise -- that technology only came to promote progress -- puts us in great danger since there is no questioning of its functionality, problem-solving, advantages and disadvantages. Without consciousness of the use of digital technologies, we end up being cast in a way that is imposed on us. Having a critical approach is necessary to shape the technologies to respect our culture, customs and needs.
    • p. 48
  • Telecenters are facilities where the general public can access computers for free. The computers are usually equipped with a variety of open source, and sometimes closed source, software and are connected to the internet. Some Telecenters offer computer lectures and workshops to communities in order to improve social and technical skills. Such activities are an attempt to promote use of the technology to fulfill individual and community needs, increasing human capital and employment. The government, NGOs, and the private sector operate Telecenter units.
    • p. 66
  • Even though there are mobile devices in the favela, people still need fixed centers like Telecenters and LAN houses. Such centers are points of reference for Internet access where people keep their profiles on social networking sites and download enough music, photos and videos to last until they can return. Not only for Internet access, these centers become important spaces where people share different experiences with their phones and tablets and eventually empower themselves.
    • p. 84
  • Favelas are areas of intense activity of drug trafficking, which promotes constant conflicts between rival gangs and the police. Drug dealers stipulate curfews and prohibit people from hanging out on the streets at certain times. Socialization in the slum, which takes place in the streets, back alleys and squares, ends up being inhibited. The Internet has been a great ally to reconnect family members and friends around the favela, where physical visits to distant areas are not always easy.
    • p. 90
  • The Telecenter and LAN house are good examples of how things work in Brazil. The Telecenter has rules, limits and control; in the LAN house the user is free to do whatever she wants, as long as she pays for the hour. It is the constant clash between the regulatory welfare state and the neoliberal policies.
    • p. 96

Is Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's right-wing president, the new Jim Jones?, 2020[edit]

Is Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's right-wing president, the new Jim Jones? (April 8, 2020), Salon
  • A South American country, a cult leader, a drug and the deaths of thousands of fanatic followers may sound like the tragic story of the Jonestown Massacre. But these details could just as well serve as the introduction to another devastating chapter in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's administration, as he leads Brazil into chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic. The eerie parallels between the Rev. Jim Jones and Bolsonaro recall the old adage that history repeats itself — first as tragedy, then as farce.
  • The mass suicide at Jonestown was the final episode of this tragic story — the end result of a personality cult around Jones, a paranoid narcissist. Jim Jones was enthralling, persuasive and power-hungry. He thrived on attention, adoration and adulation. He was equal parts bully and charmer. Such a description could be equally applicable to Jair Bolsonaro, who maintains the devotion of his base by engaging in inflammatory rhetoric, reactionary policies, and racist dog-whistles — a behavior that echoes a cult mentality.
  • The similarities between Jones and Bolsonaro reside in their use of outlets to belittle, mock and bully their opponents. Bolsonaro constantly points new enemies to his fervent followers as a way to keep them united and motivated to fight for him. Anyone that criticizes or disagrees with Bolsonaro is considered an enemy, and every effort to shut them down is justified.
  • Just before Jones decreed mass suicide, he told his followers to "stop these hysterics," using the same terminology that Bolsonaro invokes to assail preventive coronavirus measures. But instead of drinking cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid to stop the hysteria, Bolsonaro has been urging people to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug that hasn't been fully tested in treating COVID-19, and giving people a false impression of being contagion-safe so they can go back to work. As Brazil's COVID-19 death toll surpasses 600, Bolsonaro is doubling down on his manipulation tactics and motivates his followers to go out in the streets to protest against isolation measures. This brings his own "necropolitics" to a whole new level — in which his political actions are also centralized on the large scale production of the death of his own base — thus setting the stage for a tragedy greater than Jonestown.

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