Radical Politics, Ambiguous Practices: Everyday Life and "the Political" in Twentieth-Century Brazil

Conference on Latin American History 40
Saturday, January 7, 2012: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Old Town Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Paula Halperin, Purchase College (State University of New York)
Micol Seigel, Indiana University

Session Abstract

While there have been many historical studies on the ways politics in the broadest sense of the word operated in areas as diverse as education, art, union activity, and gender relations, these types of analyses have been woefully absent in studies on recent Brazilian history. Works that do look at politics in Brazil between 1950 and 2000 tend to analyze “the political” as strictly party politics and ideology and fail to account for the contradictions and complexities of the politics of everyday life in modern Brazil. This panel seeks to address these lacunae by moving beyond traditional understandings of “political” to examine broader social relations and quotidian activities as political processes. By focusing on issues like consumption, education, labor, popular culture, and technology in both national and transnational contexts, we explore the complex and often contradictory practices, rhetoric, and symbols of everyday life in Brazil in the second half of the twentieth century. This approach will allow us not only to understand how traditional politics affected everyday life in Brazil, but how quotidian sensibilities and practices revealed multiple and competing politics in Brazil. Additionally, such an approach will also help us to understand how these political sensibilities affect scholarship on Brazil specifically, and Latin America more generally, today. Finally, by examining the latter half of the twentieth century in social and cultural terms allows us to move beyond rigid periodizations based on political periods to better understand how overlooked decades like the 1950s and the 1990s were parts of broader processes of social, cultural, and political change in Brazil in the twentieth century. As a result, this panel will simultaneously complicate understandings of everyday forms of mobilization and politics while moving towards new periodizations and understandings of Brazilian society.