Brazilian Politics, Policies and Citizenship: Anthropological Perspectives on Current Challenges | International Conference | 13-15 March 2019 | Nijmegen, The Netherlands

You can find the preliminary conference booklet here

Check the event’s webpage for updates.

Participation in the event is free of charge but please register before 22 February 2019 here.

Do the recent dramatic political changes challenge the ways we used to understand Brazil? In 2018, unlike in previous presidential elections, the poor and the working class did not massively support ‘the Left’. This was decisive in the election of the extreme right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Existing party structures and support networks were unable to sufficiently engage and mobilize voters. A new way of doing politics (fazer política) emerged with the rise of hyper-connectivity through social media and the spread of fake news, fomenting prejudice against political adversaries. Election campaigns that revolved around the rights of minorities, the use of violence and the fight against corruption gave rise to extremely polarised political debates.

With regard to public policies, Brazil has recently witnesse many changes and will probably face ma  more under the presidency of Bolsonaro. During the PT administration, social policies like the conditional cash transfer programme Bo sa Família have been lauded for their contr bution to decreasing poverty levels and, to some extent, inequality. Also, for more than a decade, Brazil has been considered a front-runner in participatory politics (e.g. Orçamento Participativo), urban reform and citizenship enhancement. At the moment of this conference, we will know if Bolsonaro fulfils his promises to change key public policies. Also, what are the effects of his promise to rule for the majority? How does this impact the rights of the poor and the ethnic, gender and sexual minorities? Furthermore, what are the consequences for social movements, for independent research and university education?

Analytically, this conference will explore what theories and concepts can help us to understand the current state of Brazil, and which ones seem to have lost their relevance. What does the victory of Bolsonaro tell us about people’s imaginations of the state? How do the anti-corruption and pro- violence discourses tie in with particular conceptions of the state? How do theories of clientelist politics and class-based political structures speak to the emergence and victory of an anti-establishment politician? Regarding public policies, for many years, we have critiqued the PT’s recipe to combine social policies with neoliberal economics. Looking at the current situation, where do our theorisations bring us? How do the new politics and policies speak to the notions of insurgent citizenship, class and democracy?

We will discuss these questions over the course of three days, through a range of formats, including the presentation of papers, round tables, and keynote lectures, bringing together Brazilianists from different countries across the globe.