In this session we examine what counts as political and discursive evidence in transitions in Brazil. As charges of both progress and stagnation are leveled across a range of critical issues, we aim to render visible the parameters of these narrative battles and their ramifications.
Fueled by economic growth, Brazil undertook drastic infrastructural developments in the twenty-first century; the boom times of mega-events and massive oil discoveries reconfigured people and spaces, often violently. Over the same time period, there were staggering transitions in everyday life, including a proliferation and intensification of both state initiatives and social movements, from policies addressing abject poverty to organized demands for adequate public transportation, and efforts towards internet inclusion. The justifications for many of the changes centered on discourses of movement: expanding democracy, increasing rights, pacifying warzones. Alongside and within these movements of change, however, media, politicians, and citizens highlighted spectacles of stagnation: examples of Brazil stuck in underdevelopment, political corruption, and class conflict. In the battle of narratives, the recent regime change was called a successful democratic procedure by supporters and a legislative coup by opponents. This panel examines what counts as political and discursive evidence in addressing the question of transitions in Brazil. How does a picture of baby with microcephaly come to stand for the Zika virus and its future catastrophe, but not inequality, corruption, and state neglect? Do videos of police shooting protesters, or illegal wire taps of heads of state, support the narrative that Brazil is capable of changing its ways of structural violence, or that it is not? Rather than dromologically reducing violence to movement, or structurally reducing it to stagnation, we examine the modes of knowledge production that attempt to concretize discursive evidence.