The nature and the political meanings of the June protests are not yet clear. The streets of the major cities in Brazil have been taken by a massive number of people not seen since the impeachment of president Fernando Collor de Melo in 1992. At that time, the protesters had a very clear goal: to remove the president from office after a corruption scandal and a series of unpopular measures. The recent protests are much more heterogeneous in terms of participants, demands, and strategies in the streets, mainly regarding the use of violence. From very different point of views, analysts, activists, and politicians try hard to understand the current mobilization’s demands, meanings, and possible outcomes. In this article we try to highlight the relationship between the current street demonstrations and the Brazilian Left, especially the Left organized around the Workers’ Party. We’ll refer mainly to the protests in São Paulo, which we have followed more closely. Continue reading
As Mimi Keck and Rebecca Abers described in a thoughtful set of posts here last month, Brazil has recently experienced its biggest national protest wave since the impeachment movement in 1992. Coming as they did on the heels of the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, and beginning to ebb just as Egyptians were returning to the street in huge numbers (with tragic consequences), the June 2013 protests were, in equal measures, exhilarating, perplexing, and troubling. Keck and Abers have provided excellent discussions of the historical context and political questions raised by the protest. I’d like to take their discussion a step further to ponder some of the analytical and tactical issues that I saw in play, focusing in particular on the intense rejection of partisanship that was one of the hallmarks of these protests. In the process I hope to raise some broader questions about the relationship between social movements, political parties, and institutional politics the recent wave of global protest. Continue reading
Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left (Duke University Press, 2013)
Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left, by Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, isn’t exactly beach reading, but to those interested in a novel effort to link a wide range of political theory to practical politics, it is an interesting and (surprisingly—given the theoretical range it covers) engaging read. With apologies to Claude Levi-Strauss, this is the sort of book that is “good to think with,” especially for readers willing to use its engagement with political thought as a jumping off point for further reading or as a way to understand their own activism in a new way. That said, while this is a book about social movements, those looking for a direct engagement with what I would consider to be the main currents in social movement theory (both contemporary and historical) will be disappointed.
Amin and Thrift, at least in the United States, are probably best known to those working in what could loosely be considered “critical” urban geography. Continue reading
Most people following the Occupy movement understand that there were two Washington, D.C. Occupy protests. One was located in McPherson Square and the other in Freedom Plaza. Both camps shared some of the same visual tactics in signage and tents. These two “occupy” protests differed in origin, relationship with permits, tactics, and other fundamental ways. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray asked the National Parks Service to force their combination in mid-January, but both camps opposed this move. They both were evicted from camping in their locations over the February 4, 2012 weekend. Continue reading