In this chapter, I analyze the educational initiatives of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST), one of the largest social movements in Latin America. Over the past three decades, MST leaders have developed a set of pedagogical and organizational proposals for education, which local activists attempt to implement in public schools across the country. I argue that the MST’s attempt to enter the state and govern public schools is not a form of cooptation but, rather, a strategic attempt to transform the civil society terrain, what Antonio Gramsci referred to as a “war of position.” This often leads to contradictions, tensions, and defeats, but these educational interventions are critical to the MST’s larger political struggle: garnering the moral and intellectual leadership of civil society for an alternative hegemonic project. In this chapter, I use the case of the MST to highlight what I see as Gramsci’s three educational contributions: (1) his deeply educational theory of the process of social change, (2) his analysis of the pedagogical process through which learning and education should take place, and (3) his suggestions about appropriate strategy when attempting to engage the state and transform public institutions, including school systems. I illustrate these three contributions through an analysis of Gramsci’s writings, returning continually to the case of the MST to show how Gramsci’s educational proposals are being implemented in the twenty-first century.
- Civil Society
- Food Sovereignty
- Public School System
- Land Occupation
- Social Reproduction
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This is a conservative estimate of the number of families that have received land through MST land occupations. The MST leadership estimates that approximately 350,000 families have received land rights through MST-lead land occupations (www.mst.org.br).
MST camps refer to the areas that families are illegally occupying, and settlements are formed once these families gain legal land rights.
For more information on these federal changes, see Tarlau (2015a).
I draw on these three components of the Modern Prince from Tugal’s (2009) Gramscian analysis of political parties in contemporary Turkey.
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I have heard about these critiques from MST activists themselves, not the academics. More specifically, I have been told that the MST education sector has been critiqued for not drawing more the historical, dialectical, material approach of Dermeval Saviani.
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Flavinha’s statements can be seen on the official video of the Sixth MST Congress, found here: http://www.mst.org.br/2014/12/11/video-oficial-sobre-o-6-congresso-nacional-do-mst.html
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Tarlau, R. (2017). Gramsci as Theory, Pedagogy, and Strategy: Educational Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement. In: Pizzolato, N., Holst, J.D. (eds) Antonio Gramsci: A Pedagogy to Change the World. Critical Studies of Education, vol 5. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40449-3_6
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