Occupy and Resist: An Empirical and Theoretical Analysis of Brazilian Student Spring in 2016

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Vitor YANO, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil
In September 2016, the Brazilian federal government announced a provisional measure that established several changes in the organization of the high school system in Brazil. For being decreed without wide discussion within the civil society and supported by neoliberal ideologies, the reform of high school turned into a target of many protests, most of them organized by the secondary students themselves. Inspired by other occupy movements, such as the Chilean Penguins Revolution in 2006 and the school occupations in the state of São Paulo in 2015, the movement, later known as the Secondary Students Spring, started in Paraná state in October and quickly spreaded all over the country, reaching more than 1,200 schools in less than two months. A significant characteristic of the movement was its autonomy. The decisions that triggered the first occupations have been taken in student assemblies and no political parties or organizations were allowed to participate. As a reflex of the great crisis of representation in the country, even the institutional student organizations had no power over the self-organized collectives. Some of the principles adopted within the occupations were direct action, horizontality, functions rotativity, and direct democracy. The use of communication technologies, as a mark of this generation, has also been a strong point. Social networks have been an important mean of communication among the occupations and for publicizing manifestos, and calling for demonstrations. They have been also a weapon against media information manipulation and to promote violent repression of the police in many cases. Leadership absence, however, turned into a weakness in the negotiation with institutional authorities, which are not prepared to work with this kind of organization. Thus, the movement has not reached its main objective, but it shows that new forms of making politics are being constructed by this new generation.