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A Horizon of (Im)possibilities

A Chronicle of Brazil’s Conservative Turn

New edition

The first volume in English to analyze the impact of recent political phenomena in Brazil, from the rise of Bolsonaro to the climate crisis.
Since the shocking 2018 presidential election in Brazil, a growing body of scholarship has attempted to understand the country’s so-called “conservative turn.” A gripping in-depth account of politics and society in Brazil today, this new volume brings together a myriad of different perspectives to help us better understand the political events that have shaken the country in recent years.

Combining ethnographic insights with political science, history, sociology, and anthropology, the interdisciplinary analyses included in A Horizon of (Im)possibilities offer a panoramic view on social and political change in Brazil, spanning temporal and spatial dimensions. Starting with the 2018 presidential election, the contributors discuss the country’s recent—and more distant—past in relation to the present. Pointing to the continuities and disruptions during those years, this volume is an invaluable guide to understanding the limits of political democracy.

195 pages | 6 x 9

History: Latin American History

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

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“Rich and eclectic. . . It is highly unlikely you will read this book without uncovering new questions about an important phenomenon—the rise of a new, authoritarian, and populist right—that is both distinctly Brazilian and global.”

Anthony W. Pereira, King’s Brazil Institute

“This is a groundbreaking volume that sheds light not only on Brazil’s current affairs but on the Global South as a whole. By arguing that the contemporary conservative turn is not a turn—but a ‘return’—the authors advance our understanding of the authoritarian features that have persisted in several developing and emerging countries, and how they gain new contours in the twenty-first century. Written by leading scholars, this interdisciplinary book brings original fresh arguments to understand how Brazil, once ‘the country of the future’ turned into ‘the country of the past.’ Yet, more than looking at the past, this edited collection also presents several contributions that look ahead and help us to envision new horizons of hope and possibilities for Brazil and for the world. This book is an original contribution that will impact the field of far right and Latin American studies.”

Rosana Pinheiro Machado, University of Bath

“Anybody interested in Brazil, from professional researchers in the country to readers who like to follow its many complicated lives, will want to read this magnificent volume. Through a series of detailed chapters which offer much factual and most updated information, the anatomy of a political event is carefully and collaboratively carried out. Many of the possibilities and impossibilities that Bolsonaro’s election created, the horizons opened and closed to Brazilian citizens, are interwoven in order to understand both how we arrived at that precise moment and what it meant for the immediate future. The book does not offer a direct cause and effect explanation but rather scrutinizes the conditions of possibility that led to the political predicament we are now in. In so doing, the flash-bulb moment gradually vanishes and a longue durée with more continuity than rupture suddenly appears in our understanding. History becomes very important because this is indeed a historical moment. The different perspectives on the event and on its pre-existing conditions culminate in a powerful and poignant afterword in which an indigenous perspective on the monopoly of legitimate violence confirms, from an unusually fresh angle, many of the points made by the authors of the preceding chapters. The book is thus not only very informative, but becomes a model of how collaborative social science can be conducted in the decolonial world of today.”

Ramon Sarró, University of Oxford

“A rich and diverse collection of perspectives on the Brazil of Bolsonaro's presidency. The volume is fundamental reading for understanding the rise of the far-right in contemporary Brazil.”

Sean T. Mitchell, Rutgers University-Newark, and author of ‘Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil’

“This book is a must-read for all those who want to understand the recent success of neo-populist, conservative movements in Brazil and beyond. Avoiding facile conclusions that portray the election of president Jair Bolsonaro as a radical break with earlier conservative movements or a simple continuation of these, the authors of this enlightening volume uncover and analyze the particular entanglements of political and cultural dynamics that offered Bolsonaro and his allies a chance to present themselves as Messianic saviors of the moral and political order.”

Martijn Oosterbaan, Utrecht University

Table of Contents

Carly Machado

Introduction: Brazil’s conservative return
Katerina Hatzikidi and Eduardo Dullo

Looking back: How did we get here?

1. The past of the present
Lilia Moritz Schwarcz

2. Denied recognition: threats against the rights of quilombola communities
José M. Arruti and Thaisa Held

3. From Orkut to Brasília: the origins of the New Brazilian Right
Camila Rocha

4. Ritual, text and politics: the evangelical mindset and political polarization
David Lehmann

The horizon ahead: Where are we going?

5. After affirmative action: redrawing colour lines in Brazil
Graziella Moraes Silva

6. From participation to silence: Grassroots politics in contemporary Brazil
Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos

7. Development opportunity or national crisis? The implications of Brazil’s political shift for elite philanthropy and civil society organising
Jessica Sklair

8. Politics and collective mobilisation in post-PT Brazil
Jeff Garmany

Conclusion: Shifting horizons
Katerina Hatzikidi and Eduardo Dullo

Afterword: No matter who won, indigenous resistance will always continue
Taily Terena, João Tikuna, Gabriel Soares

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