Social movement and Brazil

Last week friday’s lecture in the course ‘People Policy and Resources’ discussed theory and practice of social movements. Social movements can be defined as social forms through which people:

 “coordinate and act together as collectives, respond to shifting environments and conflicts, dramatize and frame shared understandings of grievances, solidarity and visions, and challenge and influence existing political and cultural systems of authority.” (Karpantschof 2006)

One of the examples in class was the Landless People’s Movement in Brazil (MST). As a background to this example students had to read about the history and community-making of the MST (Wolford, 2003) and about the adoption of agroecology as “the science of sustainable agriculture”  within the movement (Delgado, 2008: 563).

Thanks to the cooperation of our group with the Rural Development Post Graduate Program in Brazil, of the Federal University of Rio Grande de Sul (see earlier blogs 27 January, 13 February, 6 March) the students could also see how the movement works through part of a dvd ‘Agriculacao National de Agroecologia’. Together we watched a documentary about IL ENA, the national meeting for agroecology in Brasil which took place in 2006. The documentary clearly showed how social movements work through both practice ánd language. On the one hand the struggle for the material; actions for rights and resources. And on the other hand the struggle against dominant discourse; the construction of alternative conceptions and significations which politicizes dominant understandings and creates room for change.