Latin American Perspectives: Intellectuals, social theory and political practice in Brazil:
A proposal for a thematic issue on Brazilian social thought and political practice in the 1990s to be submitted to the collective of editors of Latin American Perspectives. Submitted by Jawdat Abu el Haj.
In the 1990s Latin American societies passed through a decade of profound social change engendered by the diffusion of external investments, privatizations and institutional restructuring. Key protagonists of those neo-liberal adjustments were politically engaged intellectuals who, in earlier decades, participated in the democratic opposition to authoritarian regimes. Economists like Domingos Cavallo in Argentina, Pedro Aspe in Mexico, Evelyn Matthei Story and Alejandor Foxley in Chile assumed central positions in the 1990s and managed the transition to market-based capitalism. The profile of those economists, by and large, explains the adherence to neo-classical economics. Trained at prestigious universities, studied with famous neo-classical economists and worked for international institutions, those economists were natural candidates to lead the pro-market policies recommended by the Washington Consensus.
In Brazil intellectuals' engagement in politics took on a different path. Unlike in the rest of the continent where economists had the upper hand, in Brazil social scientists assumed power in the 1990s. Although the left consider Fernando Henrique Cardoso as a preconceived politician placed by international capital to denationalize the Brazilian economy and reinforce external dependence, in this issue we deem intellectual engagement in politics to be rooted in Brazilian academic culture and its interpretations of social classes, the state and dynamics of accumulation in dependent capitalism. Furthermore, we consider the 1990s praxis to be embedded in a long tradition of home grown social theories that were initiated by the São Paulo sociological school in the 1930s and took a paradigmatic shape with the introduction of academic sociology. In a span of four decades there was a gradual accumulation of social knowledge about the nature of classes, political power, economic model and dynamics of accumulation that led to a political practice in the 1990s. In that sense, the 1990s economic adjustments were deeply seated in a political theory of capitalist development in Brazil.
By and large, the relationship between intellectuals, social theory and political practice has not received due attention from Latin Americanists. In our opinion, comprehending the affinity between social theory, political knowledge and praxis could reveal a complexity of the 1990s restructuring of capitalism in Brazil, which was widely ignored by the empiricist turn in the literature.
The following themes could help grasp the theory of capitalism, state and political power that guided capitalist restructuring in Brazil during the 1990s:
1. Social theory and knowledge in the São Paulo sociological school: major theoretical and methodological influences.
2. Race and class in the definition of social hierarchies and stratification in Brazil.
3. Social classes in peripheral capitalism: bourgeoisie, workers and middle classes.
4. The theory of associated dependent development revisited and its policy implications in the 1990s.
5. The Brazilian political model (state) and conceptions of political (parties) and civil societies (social movements).
6. The definition of the Brazilian model of capital accumulation including the debates on income concentration, marginalization and globalization.
7. Authoritarianism, democracy and economic reforms in the 1990s.
8. The impact of the political economy of the 1980s: structural inflation, economic plans and interpretations of the developmentalist crisis.
9. Local bourgeoisie, international capital and competitiveness in the 1990s.
10. Brazilian debates in the 1990s on dependence, imperialism and interdependence. How those concepts shaped the post-Cardoso era.
11. Interpretations of the transition from Cardoso to Lula focusing on continuities, differences and ruptures.
This issue is being coordinated by Jawdat Abu el Haj. Prospective contributors should feel free to communicate with Jawdat Abu el Haj at the following email address: paiacu[at]yahoo.com.br
Manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages of double-spaced text in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If possible, submit two copies along with a cover sheet and basic biographical information. With these items, we also require that the manuscript be sent on a CD-R, by e-mail, or on a floppy disk if the other formats are not available. The LAP style guide is available on request or online.
Please send any manuscript submissions to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703
LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
P.O. BOX 5703
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA 92517-5703
FAX to LAP (951) 827-5685
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