Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Tianna S. Paschel -- Beyond Radicals and 'Sellouts': The Institutionalization of Black Movements into the State in Colombia and Brazil

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

"Beyond Radicals and 'Sellouts': The Institutionalization of Black Movements into the State in Colombia and Brazil," with Tianna S. Paschel, University of Chicago, Department of Political Science.

This presentation will examine the divergent trajectories of black social movements in Colombia and Brazil. Starting in the 1990s, black movements in Colombia and Brazil were both successful in pressuring their states to adopt anti-racism and multicultural policies for the first time in their histories. Included in such legislation was the institutionalization of black populations’ right to political participation. This would give black activists in both countries unprecedented access to the state, but it would have very different effects on the movements in each country. In this new context, whereas the major Afro-Colombian organizations have boycotted or been shut out of institutionalized spaces due to serious corruption, the Afro-Brazilian movement has been almost completely absorbed into a Brazilian state where it has been considerably effective. I draw on Baiocchi, Heller and Silva (2008) in order to propose a theoretical framework for understanding the complex process of social movement-state engagement over time. Taking as my point of departure the fact that social movements are a conglomerate of diverse actor who are embedded in vastly different political fields, I argue that the different trajectories of black movements in Colombia and Brazil has as much to do with the structural context in which these movements are embedded, as the decisions movement actors make about what kind of relationship they want to have with the state in this new political and institutional context. These cases challenge the assumption in the literature that all social movement institutionalization is created equally, and suggest the need for an integrated state-civil society approach that examines the real consequences of working from within and outside of the state, in specific political contexts.

Location: McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.