Occupying Schools, Occupying Land: How the Landless Workers' Movement Transformed Brazilian Education

ISBN : 9780190870324

Rebecca Tarlau
392 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2019
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Over the past thirty-five years the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST), one of the largest social movements in Latin America, has become famous globally for its success in occupying land, winning land rights, and developing alternative economic enterprises for over a million landless workers. The movement has also linked education reform to its vision for agrarian reform by developing pedagogical practices for schools that foster activism, direct democracy, and collective forms of work. In Occupying Schools, Occupying Land, Rebecca Tarlau explores how MST activists have pressured municipalities, states, and the federal government to implement their educational program in public schools and universities, affecting hundreds of thousands of students. Contrary to the belief that movements cannot engage the state without demobilizing, Tarlau shows how educational institutions can help movements recruit new activists, diversify their membership, increase technical knowledge, and garner political power. Drawing on twenty months of ethnographic field work, Tarlau documents how the MST operates in different regions working at times with or through the state, at other times outside it and despite it. She argues that activists are most effective using contentious co-governance, combining disruption and public protest with institutional pressure to defend and further their goals. Through an examination of the potentials, constraints, failures, and contradictions of the MST's educational struggle, Occupying Schools, Occupying Land offers insights into the relationship between education and social change, social movements and states, and the barriers and possibilities for similar reforms in democratic contexts throughout the world.


List of Acronyms
List of Illustrations
Part One: Constructing a National Educational Program
1. Pedagogical Experiments in the Brazilian Countryside
2. Transforming Universities to Build a Movement: The Case of PRONERA
3. From the Pedagogy of the MST to Educacao do Campo: Expansion, Transformation, and Compromise
Part Two: Regional Cases of Contentious Co-Governance of Public Education
4. Rio Grande do Sul: Political Regimes and Social Movement Co-Governance
5. Pernambuco: Patronage, Leadership, and Educational Change
6. Ceara: The Influence of National Advocacy on Regional Trajectories
Appendix A: Manifesto of Educators of Agrarian Reform, July 1997
Appendix B: Curriculum of the University of Ijui Pedagogy of Land Program (1998-2001)
Appendix C: Curriculum of the UNESP PRONERA Geography Program (2007-2011)
Appendix D: Fourth National Seminar on PRONERA Final Document, November 2010
Appendix E: Manifesto of Educators of Agrarian Reform, September 2015
Glossary of Portuguese Terms

About the author: 

Rebecca Tarlau is Assistant Professor of Education and Labor and Employment Relations at the Pennsylvania State University. She is affiliated with the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program, the Comparative and International Education program, and the Center for Global Workers' Rights.

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