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Title: Pedagogies of Occupation: Youth Aspiration, Drugs and the Politics of Time in Brazil
Authors: Fogarty Valenzuela, Benjamin
Advisors: Biehl, João
Lederman, Rena
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Brazil
politics of time
war on drugs
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Latin American studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “Pedagogies of Occupation” is a study of working-class youth in Brazil. It focuses on contestations over the question of how they ought to occupy their time. My research was carried out during a period of Brazilian history characterized by economic and political tumult: dreams of social inclusion and mobility were waning, and working-class neighborhoods were subject to violent forms of state intervention, justified as part of the war on drugs. In this context, the issue of how young people occupied their time was highly charged. In particular, the state of desocupação (the state of being unoccupied) was understood by state, private, and NGO actors as a central problem, leading to a range of interventions seeking to occupy young people—directing them towards busy everyday schedules, and opening certain aspirational horizons while foreclosing others. These interventions are what I call “pedagogies of occupation”: forms of pedagogical intervention (that is, softer and more ubiquitous forms of social control, as opposed to state-authorized violence) that emphasize occupying young people’s time in ways that are seen as productive. I argue, therefore, for a turn from scholarship on the war on drugs that studies hard forms of occupation (military and police interventions)—forms of occupation that are primarily spatial—in order to focus on softer, pedagogical forms of occupation that concern themselves with how time is occupied. I make the case that political struggles over the occupation of time are key sites of contestation over the present life and future prospects of young people in Brazil, and that the status of being busy – as well as the charge of idleness (of time unoccupied) – serve as vital social markers, parsing youth along the lines of race, geography, gender, and class. Finally, at a theoretical level, “Pedagogies of Occupation” proposes occupation as a keyword for social thought, a politically charged term with both spatial and temporal stakes. My research draws from participant observation, interviews, and archival work to develop an understanding of Brazilian working-class youth’s sociocultural and pedagogical contexts. My fieldwork is grounded in the favela neighborhood of Madeiros, one of the areas most heavily hit by the violence of the war on drugs. It isolates three key sites of contestation, and is divided into three corresponding sections. Part I explores state educational actors’ attempts to keep youth preoccupied and away from the perceived dangers associated with drugs. Part II takes place at a larger temporal scale, focusing on youth aspirations for the future, in terms of higher education, class, and career—their attempts to find an occupation in the sense of a profession. Part III focuses on the political sense of occupation, documenting and analyzing a student movement that took over and occupied high schools across Brazil, and its demand that the state invest in educational infrastructure.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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