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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Abstract, "New Forms of Environmental Governance in São Paulo: Implications for Human Rights" by LaDawn Haglund

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New Forms of Environmental Governance in São Paulo: Implications for Human Rights 
by LaDawn Haglund

The democratic transition and constitutional reforms in Brazil raised hopes that critical environmental challenges and egregious social deficits could finally be remedied through law, but political and legal legacies, fragmentation among actors, and disarticulation between and within institutions and between the state and citizens have complicated this transformation. Examination of the emerging role of the courts and the law in promoting social rights and environmental protection in the water and sanitation sectors in São Paulo reveals how long-standing urban problems are reified or altered through legal means. It also shows that ongoing challenges have prompted a search for new, proactive strategies of coordination, tested old assumptions about state/society relationships, and provoked broader conversations about difficult socioeconomic and political questions at the heart of creating sustainable, just societies.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Abstract, "The Bolsa Família Program: Replacing Politics with Biopolitics" by Rémi Fernand Lavergne and Bernadete Beserra

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The Bolsa Família Program: Replacing Politics with Biopolitics 
by Rémi Fernand Lavergne and Bernadete Beserra

The Bolsa Família Program is the flagship of Brazil’s targeted public policies. It exemplifies a particular approach to the public management of alterity, an approach that reveals a state more preoccupied with rationalizing public expenditures and building social peace than with policies oriented toward income distribution, democratization, and the expansion of social rights. The program is a form of biopolitics, inscribed in a framework aimed at the normalization, regimentation, and control of the population that receives the benefit. Lifelong social assistance and education are important instruments of subjectivation and the production of subjectivities with an eye to influencing the conduct of indigent and marginalized populations. The goal is to influence the conduct of indigent and marginalized populations and, in a movement quite the reverse of the touted “inclusion,” to separate them more and more from the citizenship that the program advertises and promises.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Abstract, "State-Society Dynamics in Contemporary Brazilian Land Reform" by Wendy Wolford

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State-Society Dynamics in Contemporary Brazilian Land Reform 
by Wendy Wolford

Over the past 15 years, land reform has returned from the “dustbin of history” to serve again as a viable policy option. Much has been written about its resurgence, with the research tending to focus narrowly on the role of prices, policies, and politics in shaping the design and outcome of distribution. While these are necessary elements to understand, their reification neglects the critical element of process. Land reform programs are implemented by an array of government actors and negotiated on the ground by beneficiaries, social movement activists, large farmers, and the general public. A messy assemblage of actors and interests shapes both the design and the outcome of distribution. Qualitative analysis of the federal agency in charge of land reform in Brazil, the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform—INCRA), reveals that, in the context of increased citizen participation and reduced funding, the agency must work together with social movement activists to perform its task. The analysis suggests that the study of state-society relations today requires a new vocabulary that highlights substance and process rather than form.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Abstract, "The Role of Policy Makers in the Formulation and Implementation of Public Policy for Brazilian Agriculture" by Sergio Pereira Leite

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The Role of Policy Makers in the Formulation and Implementation of Public Policy for Brazilian Agriculture 
by Sergio Pereira Leite

A processual approach to public policy analysis rather than the more common instrumental one can help us to understand the experience of policy makers involved in government programs related to rural Brazil and to evaluate the extent to which the implementation of rural policy is influenced by the networks and institutional environments in which administrators are engaged. A broader analytical framework for agrarian and agricultural policies, particularly those implemented during the two terms of the Lula administration (2003–2010), can be arrived at by examining the strategic political games in which public administrators were involved, the different forums in which these games were institutionalized (the spaces in which rural policies are created and implemented), and the institutional environments that structured and regulated the creation of these policies.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Abstract, "Development Models for the Brazilian Countryside: Paradigmatic and Territorial Disputes" by Bernardo Mançano Fernandes

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Development Models for the Brazilian Countryside: Paradigmatic and Territorial Disputes 
by Bernardo Mançano Fernandes

Problems of land use and ownership result from the inequalities caused by the hegemonic form of capitalism, agribusiness. A possible alternative model has yet to be worked out, and there is a fundamental need to reflect on the struggle against the hegemony of capitalism and how to safeguard the interests of the peasantry. From this perspective, the agrarian question should be considered as a conflict between those favoring the interests of the peasantry and family farming and those favoring agribusiness. A paradigmatic debate about the roles of the Brazilian state, agribusiness, and the peasant movements in formulating public policy shows that the potential for the peasantry to grow food is threatened by the concentration of power, landownership, capital, technology, and wealth. Unless there is a change in the development model, the prospect is increasing inequality. The experiment with having two government ministries for agriculture is an important step in the shaping of policies to support family farming.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Abstract, "Toward the Worker State, or Working for the State? Reorganization of Political Antagonisms in the Brazilian Amazon" by Brenda Baletti

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Toward the Worker State, or Working for the State? Reorganization of Political Antagonisms in the Brazilian Amazon 
by Brenda Baletti

The institutionalization of the Brazilian Workers’ Party has given rise to new tensions among emerging political actors, historic social movement mediator organizations, and the state. An analysis of the differences in strategies and practices between the Movement in Defense of Renascer and the Prainha Rural Worker’s Movement that emerged during the creation of the Renascer Extractive Reserve in the Lower Amazon highlights the fact that the movement’s emancipatory impulses indicate a break with the politics-as-usual of the union and the Workers’ Party more broadly. An examination of union political discourses and practices that seek to fold these emancipatory impulses back into the dominant logic indicates that the union continues to perform the work of the state—albeit a reconstituted one—both institutionally and effectively.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Abstract, Deconstructing the Post-Neoliberal State: Intimate Perspectives on Contemporary Brazil by Wendy Wolford and John D. French

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Deconstructing the Post-Neoliberal State: Intimate Perspectives on Contemporary Brazil 
by Wendy Wolford and John D. French

The last three presidential administrations in Brazil, including the two presidencies of Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva (2002–2010) and the first term of Dilma Rousseff (2010-2014), have complicated widely held understandings of the Brazilian state. It is no longer possible to characterize recent governments as simply authoritarian, patrimonial, or divorced from the experiences of the Brazilian public (see Pereira in this issue). The path to “deepening democracy” (Fung, Wright, and Abers, 2003) has not been an easy or straightforward one, as recent protests and ongoing corruption scandals have shown, and yet a brief history of the recent past illustrates dramatic change. In 1985 a 21-year dictatorship—what Peter Evans (1989) called a “developmental state”—was defeated only to be followed by debt-fueled crisis and a decade of economic stagnation. Hyperinflation and economic uncertainty led in turn to an era of neoliberal governance, including the privatization of state-owned enterprises, reduction of trade protections, and establishment of regional free-market zones (Baker, 2002; Corrales, 2012; Power, 1998; Wolford, 2005).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Book, "Labor History’s Transnational Turn: Rethinking Latin American and Caribbean Migrant Workers" by Jorell Meléndez-Badillo


Labor History’s Transnational Turn. Rethinking Latin American and Caribbean Migrant Workers 
by Jorell Meléndez-Badillo

Book Review of:
Deborah Cohen Braceros: Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 201. 328 pp.
Leon Fink (ed.) Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 480 pp.
Julie Greene The Canal Builders: Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. 475 pp.
Kathleen López Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013. 340 pp.