Yesterday there were large street demonstrations against the Temer government's proposals for so-called "pension reform" in Brazil. These have received innumerable and authoritative academic critiques. This post is mainly about a popular critique, but let me begin with my fellow academics. The government's arguments about the size and causes of the claimed deficit in the national pension … Continue reading Pensions: a bridge too far for the Brazilian coup?
Yesterday afternoon a light plane carrying four passengers crashed into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. One of the bodies recovered was that of Teori Zavascki, the Supreme Court judge responsible for oversight of the Operation Carwash (Lava Jato) corruption investigations and judgement of cases against politicians who, by virtue of currently … Continue reading Deepening crisis in Brazil
This first week of January has seen two massacres of inmates in Brazilian prisons. The first took place in Manaus. Fifty-six inmates died, the highest number to be killed since the Carandiru prison complex massacre in São Paulo in 1992. But in that latter case it was the police who did the killing. In Manaus … Continue reading Brazil’s prison crisis
Despite hysteria in some sectors of the international press over Zika, raw sewage pouring into Guanabara Bay, and security threats facing athletes and visitors, the Rio Olympics proved successful as a sporting event. So, in the end, after initial lack of sponsor interest and slow ticket sales, did the Paralympics, which ended up beating Beijing … Continue reading After the Olympics
I spent last week in Mexico City, at the invitation of Dr. Leif Korsbaek of the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH). Two of the lectures that I gave at the ENAH were focused on British Social Anthropology. The first lecture was on the British style of fieldwork, illustrated with some of my own … Continue reading Visit to the ENAH and Ibero
This post is mostly about a recent event in a community in Salvador, the capital city of the state of Bahia, which I began to study in 2006. Bairro da Paz is an irregular settlement with a population of 60,000 residents, formed by a land invasion during the last years of military rule. The remarkable … Continue reading Calling police to account in Bairro da Paz
Canalha is a Portuguese word that means "scoundrel" when applied to an individual and "rabble" or "riffraff" when applied to a group. Senator Tancredo Neves, the grandfather of Aécio Neves, shouted it thee times in the direction of Senator Auro Moura Andrade, after Andrade falsely claimed in the plenary session of April 2, 1964, that President … Continue reading Canalha! Canalha! Canalha!
The legal farce of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is set to continue a little while longer. Her defence team has appealed to the Supreme Court for the decision of the Senate to be annulled and Michel Temer returned to his prior status as interim president pending a final decision. It is difficult to imagine … Continue reading Postscript on the Brazilian coup
The extended process of impeaching President Dilma Rousseff came to its inevitable end yesterday with her removal from office, by a majority of 61 votes for to 20 against, in the Senate, whose members act as the final jury in impeachment cases in a session presided over by the President of the Supreme Court. Minister … Continue reading Brazil’s uncertain future
One of the most influential groups in the most reactionary congress in Brazilian history is the Rural Lobby (Bancada Ruralista), which represents the interests of large landowners and commercial farmers. In Brazil large landowner means very large indeed, with some families controlling holdings the size of Wales. But even the more modestly endowed members of … Continue reading Brazilian anthropology under attack