Brazil’s Development Brokers: A 21st Century Reading of Internal Colonialism

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Luis BARROS, Universidade Federal do Ceara, Brazil
This paper discusses the legacy of colonialism in 21st century Brazil by analyzing the role of development brokers (Bierschenk, et al., 2002). Development brokers rely on social capital to construct and maintain their privileged positions of power (Vásquez-León, 2009; Wolf, 1990). To understand the structures and institutional arrangements that result from brokerage, it is useful to draw on Durkheim’s (2010) distinction between mechanical and organic solidarity. On the one hand, there is the mechanical solidarity characteristic of Brazil’s authoritarian culture (Holanda, 2014; Martins, 1999; Sondrol, 1991). On the other hand, there is the organic solidarity of transnational power structures, which operate through a new kind imperialism (Harvey, 2003). By analyzing the way development brokers navigate these different forms of solidarity it is possible to better describe the ways in which internal colonialism functions. It is then argued that the incompatibility between these two coexisting forms of solidarity partially explain both the failure of capitalism to function productively in Brazil (Soto, 2000) and some of the dysfunctional aspects of postcolonial institutions – such as relationships of clientelism and patronage (Barreira, 1999; Nelson and Finan, 2009) – present in the country. The paper concludes by suggesting a way forward in the construction of a “theory for weak and fragile states” (Magrath, 2010) that could contribute to the debate of postcolonial capitalism.