Fahlberg's research focuses on urban violence and politics, race, poverty, gender, and social movements, with a focus on Latin America. Overarching themes in Fahlberg's writings include the effects of gang and police violence on the urban poor; race and gender inequalities in areas of poverty and violence; and anti-violence protest and community organizing. Fahlberg is the co-Director of the Building Together Research Center, based in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, which focuses on producing collaborative research between formal researchers and members of poor urban neighborhoods. Fahlberg is also a Faculty Fellow at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and a grant recipient by the American Association of University Women. Fahlberg's dissertation, titled "Activism under Fire: Violence, Poverty and Collective Action in Rio de Janeiro" received the 2019 Best Dissertation Award by the American Sociological Association.
Explains how "uneven development," or a give and take of resources by the Brazilian government to its poor "favela" neighborhoods, actually creates many challenges for its poor citizens to access basic services and resources. Describes how Rio's "favelas" were in fact formed in response to the interests of wealthy elites--both local and international--and continue to struggle to gain access to mainstream urban institutions.
Looks at how residents of one of Rio de Janeiro's poor neighborhoods experienced that "Pacifying Policing Units" (or UPPs), a project of urban militarization deployed by Rio's governor, Sergio Cabral between 2008 and 2017. Finds that, in a context where gangs and police were constantly engaged in shootouts before the UPP program, most residents preferred the permanent presence of the military police in their neighborhood to the more sporadic and lethal invasions more common in Rio's history.
Looks at the 2013 protest movements in urban Brazil. Argues that the protests were inspired by narratives of (a) collective history of democratization; (b) local issues and concerns; and (c) global discourse about the right to the city.
Explains how competition for power between men, as well as commonly held beliefs about what constitutes masculinity, contribute to sexual violence against women and men. Looks at both the US and international contexts, with a particular concern for areas of war and conflict, and demonstrates how the meanings attached to sexual violence are in fact quite similar across these different locations.
Looks at how the security policies of Rio de Janeiro around the militarization of its favelas contributed to "breaking the city." Shows that public policies that treat some neighborhoods differently than others can contribute to exacerbating economic, political, social, and security tensions within the city.