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Re: [xmca] From NYTimes: Brazil’s Leftist Ruling Party, Born of Protests, Is Perplexed by Revolt

Andre, you should check out the work of Brecht de Smet, who has used the Project approach to Activity Theory to study the Egyptian Revolution. He uses Marx, Granmsci and Vygotsky as well as a great amount of "field work".


André Machado Rodrigues wrote:
Hi Mike and David,

Maybe this piece written by Michalis adds more about Brazilian political
mood in 2010.


If dialectics deals with the born, development and death of the object.
Perhaps I have the chance to trace it here. (???)

I highlight a short part:

The evening comes. I am quite tired and want to retreat to the room where I
sleep, but remain for a moment in a space that could be called the “living
room,” where the whole family sits – not on but in front of – the sofa, so
that their backs are against the sofa and their legs stretched out in front
of them. There is a football match, and everybody – including the female
family members and children – watch with enthusiasm. I have never been a
fan of watching TV, not movies, matches, soap operas, or game shows.
However, the scene is quite interesting for my ethnography[...]

At most of the Landless Workers’ settlements where I was, no one spoke
about the global economic crisis or Brazilian economic policies, open
questions about organic farming were very little discussed, and there were
no reading groups to discuss newspaper articles, classic political
economical analyses, or reports by other organic producers elsewhere in the
world. Somehow the interest was not there, and a feeling dominated that it
was not necessary because a lot had already been achieved. People did not
discuss their dependence on money and technologies that they could not
produce on their own, or about the future of the movement. Even the
settlement itself was organized so that public space was limited.

 BR, André

Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 22:08:03 -0400
From: David Preiss <daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] From NYTimes: Brazil?s Leftist Ruling Party, Born
        of Protests, Is Perplexed by Revolt
To: lchcmike@gmail.com
Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Message-ID: <9E6B2090-D9B5-4998-AEB0-B60A1067D4DA@gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=windows-1252

Same things happening here as well: universities have evolved from being
ivory tower institutions to become job training institutes without ever
being settled in their calling to become laboratories of critical thinking.
One of the things that I find most conservative of the new generations is
that many of their demands are quite sensitive to the demands of the job
market however their nature. Prepare us for real jobs, give us the
practical skills to succeed "out there".  What about intellectual
discovery? I love the image of Charles Darwin boarding the Beagle
expedition when he had the age of a contemporary young graduate student.
And I usually tell my students to contrast their boring and safe learning
experience with that of Darwin.

On the other hand, if we look at the "grown ups" side, given the demands
that the faculty face these days, I assume that many professors -specially
the younger ones- are not in a situation to make risky adventures on
unchartered paths of thought and board their own Beagles. These days, the
nature of the academic job at the university has to do more with the
industrial production of knowledge than with the free exploration of ideas.
If an academic needs a good h-index to secure his or her post he or she
should not be waiting time in publishing papers that go to anything that is
not the mainstream.

Meanwhile, we are in a situation where the words "innovation" &
"globalization" have such societal valued attached that many universities
will become technological factories. Specially, with the universities
worldwide confronting many financial challenges which can be sorted out
with university entrepreneurship. The humanities are feeling the stress of
this evolving dynamic and the social sciences are becoming everyday less
"social" whatever that words means. That this is happening in a context
where the human species is facing quite dramatic ecological and societal
crisis makes the situation quite problematic.

On Jun 20, 2013, at 9:11 PM, mike cole wrote:

Many thoughts on your summary of the situation from where you live and

Here my most vivid impression after a year of teaching a "theory and
practice" course with more or less the same students..... a whole academic
year. It was a
great experience, but there is a huge gap between student expectations
and faculty
concerns. The students are terrified of the future. They see a long haul
from barista to barrister, or whatever their aims are.
They have learned, "mastered" in Jim Wertsch's sense, the melange of
theories that faculty use to analyse various forms of communication,
broadly construed. The faculty is in fashion these days in the range of
fields it draws upon. A lot of critical

They want jobs. Event planning, marketing, pr, advertising....... you
know, the kind of stuff a university SHOULD be teaching.("Why, look at San
Diego State down the road! They do a much better job of preparing us for
our futures than you do.")
As professionals when it came down to actually planning the real event
these students were, by and large, pros. And what didn't know, they had the
good sense to learn during this class: web skills, filming and editing
skills, blogging skills, all of which, they knew or believed they new, were
actually instrumental to shining at THE EVENT.
But linking events of the sort that people go to a lot of trouble of
planning, to any general principles of communication? Naw, that's not
possible! Makes for interesting teaching. I learned a lot. A syllabus on
"eventology" has been put together by
the class to present to the faculty.

So what? I cannot save them from their futures. I can try to prepare them
their futures, but they know a lot more about it than I do? Or a lot
The value of democracy? From what I see around me, democracy rides on the
back of either a full stomach, or at least the promise of a fuller stomach.
But if it comes down to one-person-vs one vote on the one hand, and a full
enough stomach on the other. people seem to be able to stomach some very
difficult forms of life.
The solution? Quien sabe?

On Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 5:53 PM, David Preiss <daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
Chile has been experiencing the same level of unrest for several years.
Interestingly the focus of protests here is on the inequalities of our
educational system, which express the ominous inequalities of Chilean
society. The "student movement" has thus galvanized a broad demand for
social justice, although some of their demands may have consequences that
would not necessarily foster social justice if applied as requested without
adding other structural reforms. The more contentious issue is whether
university education should be free for all. As the universities here
recruit most of their students among the socio-ecomomically advantaged,
free public education at the university level will give more money to those
that have more resources. In a country where the majority of poor kids
don't have access to a good pre-school education many people think we
should address preschool education first.
My main concern is how this social unrest can be channeled in a way that
strengthens democracy. So far, our politicians have been incapable to
provide an adequate interpretation to what is going on. And to the lack of
communication between politicians and the public we can add that there is a
generational struggle going on between the generations that were educated
in a recovered democracy and the older ones that had to go through the ugly
business of reconquering it by means of negotiation and not violence.
Unfortunately, many of the protests have provided the occasion to violent
clashes between protesters and the police as we are seeing in Turkey and
Brazil. And students have adopted strategies that some people may share,
and some others not: e.g., occupying schools, universities, stopping
classes, and so. On the other hand, some student leaders are not
necessarily "dialogical" (neither is the government). So, we have been in
an impasse for almost half decade.
There is a lot at stake here. Not only whether people would pay or not
according to their means for a public funded university education but also
the way disagreements are and will be solved within Chilean democracy. Are
our institutions solid enough to provide a good solution to civil unrest or
would the country enter a stage of increasing polarization that would take
the issue to a different arena where those with more power will end up
imposing their views?
On Jun 20, 2013, at 4:04 PM, mike cole wrote:

Here is what a leading American newspaper is telling its readers about
Brazil today, for those outside of Brazil who have not been following

      Brazil’s Leftist Ruling Party, Born of Protests, Is Perplexed by

The governing Workers Party is watching with dismay as Brazil’s largest
city braces for a new round of demonstrations on Thursday.
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