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How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship: Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement

Abstract

This paper describes how the Brazilian Landless Movement fostered an insurgent citizenship among the poor. We describe three core organizational practices of this movement that supported this insurgent citizenship. We find that these practices bear striking resemblance to the practices of other civil society organizations (CSOs), including social service organizations, when they support the empowerment of marginalized communities. The identification of common practices suggests that despite the differences among CSOs, these distinctions may be less stark than assumed and that there may be common causal pathways between CSOs and insurgent citizenship.

Re´sume´

Ce document décrit comment le Mouvement des sans terre du Brésil a favorisé une citoyenneté insurgée parmi les pauvres. Nous décrivons trois pratiques organisationnelles fondamentales de ce mouvement qui ont soutenu cette citoyenneté insurgée. Nous constatons que ces pratiques ressemblent étonnamment aux pratiques des autres organisations de la société civile (OSC), y compris les organismes de services sociaux, lorsqu’elles soutiennent l’autonomisation des communautés marginalisées. L’identification de pratiques communes semble indiquer que malgré les différences entre les OSC celles-là peuvent être moins marquées que prévu et qu’il peut exister des voies causales communes entre les OSC et la citoyenneté insurgée.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Beitrag beschreibt, wie die brasilianische Landlosenbewegung eine aufständische Bürgerschaft unter Armen begünstigte. Wir beschreiben drei wesentliche organisatorische Praktiken dieser Bewegung, die diese aufständische Bürgerschaft unterstützte. Wir kommen zu dem Ergebnis, dass ihre Praktiken denen anderer Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen, einschließlich Organisationen, die soziale Leitungen bereitstellen, äußerst ähnlich sind. Die geteilten Praktiken weisen darauf hin, dass trotz der Unterschiede zwischen den Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen diese Unterschiede unter Umständen weniger stark ausgeprägt sind als bisher angenommen und es eventuell gemeinsame Kausalpfade zwischen Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen und einer aufständischen Bürgerschaft gibt.

Resumen

El presente documento describe cómo el Movimiento Brasileño de los Sin Tierra fomentó una ciudadanía insurgente entre los pobres. Describimos tres prácticas organizativas centrales de este movimiento que apoyaron esta ciudadanía insurgente. Encontramos que estas prácticas se parecen sorprendentemente a las prácticas de otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil (CSO, del inglés civil society organizations), incluidas las organizaciones de servicios sociales, cuando apoyan el empoderamiento de comunidades marginadas. La identificación de prácticas comunes sugiere que, a pesar de las diferencias entre las CSO, estas distinciones pueden ser menos claras de lo asumido y que puede haber vías causales entre las CSO y la ciudadanía insurgente.

摘要

本文概述了巴西无土地运动如何增强穷人的叛乱公民权。我们介绍了本次支持这一叛乱公民权的运动的核心组织实践。我们发现,当支持边缘化社区的赋权时,这些实践与其他民间团体组织 (CSO) 的实践存在极大的相似性,包括社会服务组织。确定常见的实践表明,尽管CSO之间存在差别,但这些差别较假定的更少,同时CSO和叛乱公民权之间存在常见的因果路径。

ملخص

يصف هذا البحث كيف أن حركة البرازيليين الذين ليس لهم أرض عززت التمرد لحقوق المواطنة بين الفقراء. وصفنا ثلاثة ممارسات تنظيمية أساسية لهذه الحركة التي دعمت هذا التمرد لحقوق المواطنة. نجد أن هذه الممارسات تحمل شبها˝ واضحا˝ لممارسات منظمات مجتمع مدني (CSOs) أخرى، بما في ذلك منظمات الخدمة الإجتماعية، عندما يدعمون تمكين المجتمعات المهمشة. تحديد الممارسات المشتركة تشير إلى أنه على الرغم من الإختلافات بين منظمات المجتمع المدني (CSOs)، قد تكون هذه الفروق أقل قوة من المفترض وأنه قد يكون هناك مسارات غير رسمية مشتركة بين منظمات المجتمع المدني (CSOs) و التمرد لحقوق المواطنة.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. All names utilized in this paper are fictitious to protect the identities of interviewees.

  2. Jornal Sem Terra, Special Edition (Assembleia Popular na Base do MST), May 2004.

  3. Initially, there was only one coordinator, who was invariably a man. To ensure greater participation by women, the MST decided that all structures had to have a male and a female coordinator, suggesting difficulties in addressing entrenched gender relations within its ranks. A number of female leaders have emerged as a result of this change.

  4. A similar structure exists on the land reform settlements.

  5. Interview #10, 5/30/2004.

  6. Interview #22, 6/8/2004.

  7. Interview #16, 5/31/2004.

  8. Interview #16, 5/31/2004.

  9. The MST has weaved Zumbi’s heroic struggles, resistance by indigenous communities against Portuguese colonialism, and the struggles of the Peasant Leagues into its folklore or mística. On the mistica, see Issa (2007) and Bogo (2002).

  10. See Gorgen (2002) for a detailed ethnographic account of the violent eviction of Joao and other MST members from an acampamento on Santa Elmira farm, which was widely condemned in Brazil and abroad. The ensuing public pressure was decisive in the settlement of Joao and other Santa Elmira families.

  11. Interview #58, 10/24/2004.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the late Professor Ben Kohl of the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University and Linda Farthing for their excellent comments and suggestions on an earlier iteration of this paper.

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Correspondence to Lehn M. Benjamin.

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Karriem, A., Benjamin, L.M. How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship: Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement. Voluntas 27, 19–36 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-015-9549-3

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Keywords

  • Brazilian Landless Movement
  • Social movement
  • Social service
  • Citizenship
  • Civil society