Right to the City: Mobilizing in the Urban Periphery

Thursday, February 5, 2015 2:00pm – 3:15pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Guadalupe García, Department of History, Tulane University

Where Power Technologies Collide: The Production of Violence in Northern Honduras
Leanna First-Arai, Tulane University

In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre writes that diversion and appropriation of a given space for a new purpose “call[s] but a temporary halt to domination.” Through the analytical lens of Lefebvre’s work, this paper will analyze gang membership and the symbolic domination of urban space as an act of temporary resistance to the cultural hegemony of globalization. The paper will use one case in particular—MS13 and 18th Street gang activity in the Honduran city of El Progreso—to trace the circulation of people, products and power to and from the city and state, arguing that the resulting violence is a direct legacy of neoliberal reforms and mono-crop agricultural exploitation.

Structuring Political Supremacy around Religious Dominance: Building Tenochtitlan and Mexico City
Julia O’Keefe, Tulane University

Fertile Ground for Mobilization: Urban Family Farms in Rio de Janeiro
Ezra Spira-Cohen, Tulane University

Urban farmers in Brazilian capitals face levels of poverty and underdevelopment similar to rural areas. In addition, they face unique challenges, including environmental degradation, urban sprawl, and speculative real estate investment, which further exacerbate their exclusion from the developing areas that surround them. Family based agricultural production in rural Brazil has benefited from legal and political mechanisms that were created in the 1996 with the Programa Nacional de Fortalecimento da Agricultura Familiar (PRONAF) and expanded during the 2000s with direct interventions from the Lula government, but family farms in urban and peri-urban areas have been left out of this process. Only recently, policymakers have begun to take heed.
This paper examines how the institutions built to bridge the gap between urban and rural development in Brazil have created barriers for the expansion of family farming at the urban periphery. Building on my experience with the AS-PTA (a vital NGO that promotes urban agriculture) and on an extensive body of Brazilian scholarly work, this paper looks closely at the growth of local farmers markets and urban agricultural production in Rio de Janeiro. My experiences as well as primary and secondary resources suggest that civil society actors (NGOs, community based organizations, and consumer networks) play a key role in articulating and expanding two interactions that are crucial for family farmers. These are 1) government institutions that regulate farming practices and determine eligibility for financing, and 2) the local and regional consumer base. As the interaction between farmers, consumers, and state institutions hinges upon civil society actors, urban family farming becomes fertile ground for mobilizing around alternative models of production and sustainable agriculture practices.

The Enduring Legacy of State Violence: Memory and Transitional Justice

Friday, February 6, 2015
12:00pm – 1:15pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Rebecca Atencio, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University

Inferno permanente: um olhar sobre a violência na classe média brasileira no século XXI
Antonio Kleber Gomes, University of New Mexico

O estado de exceção que se instaurou no Brasil em 1964 formou, de certa maneira, uma prática de violência que, mesmo após o final da ditadura em 1985 parece ter se perpetuado, chegando até os dias de hoje. A democracia da violência (ODALIA,1984) formou uma violência banalizada, vendida através da mídia comercial. O próprio cinema nacional da atualidade exporta uma violência exótica, uma que normalmente retrata as classes menos privilegiadas e os contextos suburbanos das grandes cidades do Brasil. Essa manifestação faz com que, portanto, o público em geral não percebe que este tipo de violência está fortemente presente também na classe média do Brasil. A partir desta concepção e baseando-se em concepções de pensadores como Immanuel Kant, Hannah Arendt, Idelber Avelar e Giorgio Agamben, tentamos traçar um paralelo com as obras O livro das impossiblididades (Inferno Provisório: Volume IV), de 2009, e Domingos sem Deus (Inferno Provisório: Volume V), de 2011, ambos do escritor mineiro Luiz Ruffato. Os livros retratam a classe média brasileira e como elas funcionam neste século XXI, um reflexo de como funciona essa parcela da população do Brasil. Este trabalho se configura, portanto, como uma análise desta classe média violenta, e de como ela foi formada pela ditadura militar.

A mulher no pós-ditadura: Uma análise das personagens femininas na minissérie Queridos Amigos e no filme Hoje
Marcela Lopes, University of New Mexico

Esta apresentação visa analisar as correspondências sociais, políticas e mnemônicas entre a personagem Bia da minissérie Queridos Amigos (2008) de Maria Adelaide Amaral e a personagem Vera do filme Hoje (2011) de Tata Amaral vividas pela atriz Denise Fraga. Essas personagens compartilham de certos traços característicos daqueles que viveram no pós-ditadura, como a dificuldade em retomar suas vidas após o fim do golpe, e, assim, propõem novas considerações em torno da militância feminina no período ditatorial. Esta análise segue a aproximação teórica de Ferreira (1996), que é a construção da memória social dos anos da ditadura militar através das recordações de ex-presas políticas, ou seja, de mulheres que vivenciaram o cárcere e a tortura nesse período. Esta comunicação demonstrará como Bia e Vera encaram as marcas ideológicas, políticas e sociais que afetam diretamente sua não-resolução com o passado, no sentido de superar as consequências psicológicas e sociais adquiridas na época da ditadura e o efeito desta não-resolução com o presente.

The Hunt for Justice: Examining Traces of Brutality in K: Relato de uma busca by Bernardo Kucinski
Aja Roberts, University of New Mexico

What sustains the memory of traumatic events and why should these memories even be sustained. This presentation will examine how contemporary Brazilian literature – specifically Luis Fernando Veríssimo’s novella A Mancha (2003) broaches both the erasure and the endurance of memory in post-transitional Brazil. A Mancha tells the story of Rogério – a former political dissident who was tortured during the Brazilian dictatorship (1964-85). After the democratic transition, Rogério becomes wealthy by buying old buildings, remodeling them, and later sells them for a profit. Using Idelber Avelar’s (1999) theory that post-boom Latin American fiction employs the allegory of ruins to preserve a memory that challenges neo liberal economic policy in contemporary society, I will discuss the symbolism of ruins in Veríssimo’s A Mancha. I contend that ruins represent both the sustaining of memory, and its erasure. As such, the novella is an apt allegory of the ambivalence of the memory of the dictatorship and its human rights violations in post-transitional Brazil.

Judicial Activism and Human Rights in Colombia: An Appraisal of Colombia’s Constitutional Court
Jessica Webb, Tulane University

Over fifty years of violent armed conflict between guerilla, paramilitary and military groups has led to the internal displacement of over six million Colombians and a civil society that has been terrorized and fragmented by the continued violence. In this paper, I explore the origins and current state of the implementation of the Justice and Peace law and the Victim’s Law in Colombia amidst continuing violent conflict. I evaluate the ways in which civil society has responded to the measures as well as the ways in which efforts to reintegrate paramilitary groups and internally displaced persons may help foster cohesiveness in an historically fragmented civil society. I then analyze these findings in the context of the substantive quality of democracy in Colombia, particularly in regards to human development and human rights and also in the context of critical procedural measures of democracy, particularly the judicial independence of Colombia’s Constitutional Court. What has emerged in Colombia is a mixed picture: robust democratic institutions marred by continuing violent conflict alongside a transitional justice program that may be premature. However, I examine several marginal, though significant, sources of increased participation of civil society. These include increased civil participation in peace talks, the establishment of victims’ engagement as a crucial aspect of the peace process, and the importance of social movements in support of current peace talks. The engagement of civil society and marginalized victims of violent conflict in legislation and peace negotiations with the FARC and ELN represent an important shift in Colombian policy towards transitional justice. Moving away from the elite model of negotiation, Colombia may be in a position to incorporate and even help consolidate a more cohesive civil society that has long been terrorized by armed conflict.