LAC Main Seminar Series: The Politics of Drug Policymaking in Brazil: The Role and Notions of Evidence

Conveners: David Doyle and Felipe Krause, University of Oxford

Speaker: Felipe Neis Araujo, University of Manchester

In this presentation, I will discuss how, in this last decade, Brazilian policymakers and politicians have emptied the concept of evidence of much of its meaning and discredited scientists and institutions to justify the ongoing criminalisation of drugs, the massive investment in militarisation and security, and the escalation of legal and extra-judicial punishment for drug supply actors. I draw on data from primers issued by Brazilian ministries, debates and voting sessions in the Chamber of Deputies, legislation, and social media posts from official accounts of key political actors. Analysing these sources, it is possible to conclude that key policy actors invested in a campaign of misinformation on drug use and drug policy, promoting the circulation of fake news and other forms of misinformation to influence public opinion and hinder the efforts for reform. This process, heavily marked by fearmongering and moral panic, allows a window into the policymaking process in Brazil, where the role and notions of evidence are manipulated to accommodate political agendas.     


felipe neis araujo picture

Felipe Neis Araujo is a Brazilian social anthropologist interested in the politics of criminalisation of cultural practices. He conducted archival research, interviews, and fieldwork in Brazil, Jamaica, and Malta and published in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and magazines. Before joining the University of Manchester as a lecturer in criminology, he taught at the University of Liberia (West Africa), in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology and the Graduate Programme in Peace Studies. His teaching and research interests include politics, drug policy, inequalities, social justice, and theory & methodology in the social sciences. Contact: