Cheers from Sao Paulo, again! Today is my last day here – and Friday was my last day at the Ouvidoria. Since I came to Brazil, I’ve been researching denunciations of police corruption at the Police Ombudsman. As it usually happens in every field work, I had some minor problems that, at the end, opened some other opportunities to develop my research.
I was supposed to collect around 800 cases at the Ouvidoria and I thought I would have time to do so. Yet, due some changes at the office – the nomination of a new Chief Ombudsman and consequently the beginning of some rearrangements there – I ended up “losing” one week because they didn’t have time enough to select/separate the cases I needed to copy. When they did so, I (re)started my work, but this time, instead of being alone in a room like in the first two weeks, I worked at the attendance room (where they receive, classify and refer all denunciations). In other words, the delay gave me the opportunity to observe a little more how the institution works – thus, even though my research isn’t about the institution itself, it definitely helps me contextualize and further understand the denunciations I’m working with. For instance, in a conversation with what one could define as the” non-official chief of the attendance”, he told me: “Ouvidoria is lap”, which means, it’s a place where people can talk and complain about any kind of police misconduct; where those who feel their rights have been violated will be heard with attention and respect – maybe it’s not for grant the fact that most of those who do this work are social assistants. Even if their work isn’t effective – in the sense that the denunciations should develop into fair investigations and, whenever the case, the punishment of those convicted – the very fact that citizens have this space where they have the freedom to talk, to expose their ideas and fight for their rights is in itself a major feature of what many thinkers call Democracy. Finally, maybe it’s not for granted as well the fact that many insane people (which are called “official nuts” because they’re always the same ones) constantly call and/or go to the Ouvidoria to denounce and complain about all sorts of conspiracies against them, which poses another interesting question: how one can really know what is hallucination and what is reality? Well, I guess this would be a beautiful theme for another study…
MA Candidate, CLACS