Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Resistance
Secondary Theme: Inequality
By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Brazil seemed a country on the rise. After decades of economic instability, the years following the 2002 election of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the leftist Workers Party (PT) were characterized by economic growth, the reduction of poverty and inequality achieved through labor-market expansion, and new social assistance programs. With the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics secured, Brazil’s international reputation as an emergent world power with firm democratic and economic foundations seemed assured. However, this optimistic moment was short-lived and marred by the economic decline that followed the 2014 World Cup, a massive government corruption scandal, President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment in 2016, and the subsequent implementation of severe austerity measures. Facing the worst recession in twenty five years, Brazilians experienced a dramatic reversal of fortune.
This panel addresses how a variety of citizens—including members of the ever-precarious “new middle class,” Northeastern musicians, black activists in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, and middle-class mothers—have been experiencing and responding to Brazil's economic and political crises. The panel's ethnographic content demonstrates how survival strategies build on longstanding discourses which celebrate Brazilians’ ability to thrive in the face of precarity and instability. However, these studies also situate such adaptations within an overarching context of extreme backlash against the socioeconomic and political gains which marginalized groups experienced during the 2000s. Events such as the 2016 legislative coup d'etat leading to Rousseff’s impeachment, the March 2018 political assassination of city councilwoman Marielle Franco, and the April 2018 imprisonment of former president Lula da Silva, manifest a darker form of resistance, one that is not wielded for the common good, but for the reconfiguration and entrenchment of racial, class, and other social hierarchies. By showing the ambivalent aspects of resistance, adaptation, and resilience, we seek to better understand how social actors are negotiating dark times in practical, ideological, and affective ways.