The attack on science and knowledge production is known to be one of the main elements of the rise of the authoritarian right in the past decade. As one of the main global expressions of contemporary authoritarianism, Jair Bolsonaro is no exception to that. His government has been an important part of the context of difficulties for the higher education sector in Brazil, especially since research is highly dependent on public universities and funding agencies in the country. On top of that, the COVID pandemic in 2020 created difficulties for universities all around the world. If such a global crisis is expected to generate differentiated pressures across the Global North and South, the impact of authoritarian politics is surely prone to making the situation particularly delicate for universities.
The relationships between the local and the global in the shaping of space comprise a set of fundamental categories of Milton Almeida dos Santos, one of the greatest Brazilian thinkers in the second half of the twentieth century. He was a geographer who produced a critical and totalizing theory that permeates different areas of knowledge, such as philosophy, sociology, and political economy. In this text, I will present some of his main concepts, due to their relevance and accuracy. His notions of space, technique, place, and territory are fundamental for the understanding of contemporary political, social, and economic dynamics in the Global South and North.
“My decision was firm since I left my university in mid of February. My aunts are now giving me pressure to go back to my professor job. After seeing atrocities and mass killing of the junta, I no longer want to be part of the system they are ruling.”
Pedro Magalhães (Brazil) discusses with Boaventura Monjane (Mozambique), Sabrina Fernandes (Brazil), and Saker El Nour (Egypt) from the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies (IRGAC) on food systems, environmental activism and climate denialism in the Global South.
In Latin America, the re-neoliberalization of political and economic systems has intensified an ongoing process of de-democratization, strengthening the onslaught by neoconservative religious and secular groups, which have been growing more powerful since around 2013. These two processes—re-neoliberalization and the growth of neoconservatisms—are connected.
Femicides stand out as one of the biggest social problems in Turkey today causing a widespread and pronounced public reaction. The femicide cases are frequently on the news exploited by mainstream media with graphic coverage. The names of murdered women and pleas for retribution regularly become trending topic on Twitter. The outrage against femicides is expressive of the liberalizing worldviews and gender ideology in Turkish society while also conveying the popular contention against the government’s overall authoritarian politics along with its efforts for the recomposition of patriarchy.
Life under Myanmar’s military dictatorship, which has existed in various guises since 1962, has been harsh, which is why people wish to send the military back into the barracks as soon as possible. On 8 November 2020 they chose the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, as the winning party in the country’s general election held every five years. Voter turnout was high in both Burmese-dominated areas in Central Myanmar and the other seven states representing the seven major ethnic groups: Kachin, Kayar, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, and the Shan from the frontier areas bordering China, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.
The novel coronavirus has been emphasizing and exacerbating the effects of a widening wealth gap, years of policies of austerity, and the extent of social inequality all over the world. The uncertainty over what the future will look like increases concerns surrounding the future of crucial matters such as labour, the housing market, and higher education. This piece focuses on the practices of solidarity, how this has shaped people’s experiences of the lockdown in Istanbul, Turkey, and the ways in which the local and national state can—and did—exploit public concerns and confusion that have been evoked by the pandemic to fast-track their controversial urban projects and decisions.
More than 6,400 families have been evicted from their homes and another 19,000 remain threatened with eviction in Brazil since March 2020, when the coronavirus outbreak started in the country. In the state of São Paulo, 1,681 evictions were carried out and up to 5,000 families can be evicted from their homes at any one time. This startling data relates to informal settlements—evictions for non-payment of rent are not included—and numbers may be even higher, as this reflects only the cases identified by popular movements and the organizations participating in the “Zero Eviction” campaign.
Many influential voices have pointed out, with different degrees of optimism, that the COVID-19 pandemic might finally have ushered in the final days of neoliberalism. However, if we understand neoliberalism as a set of practices and institutional mechanisms that shield market relations from popular deliberation, we reach a different conclusion. In these terms, neoliberalism is not dying. If emergency measures are aimed more at safeguarding the profits of banks and large corporations than securing wages and welfare programmes, then this crisis is in fact an opportunity to increase wealth inequality, and not to address it as a problem.