Rural social organizing under authoritarian governance

Making spaces in Angola and Brazil

Joint seminar IFAS-Research / Wits History Workshop
Wednesday 13 September 2017

13:15 – History Workshop, Room 207, 2nd floor, Robert Sobukwe Block, East Campus, Wits University


Brad Safarik (Sciences Po Bordeaux / LAM)

The military coup in 1964 Brazil consolidated the political will of securing the inland territories, codified in the first Plan of National Integration (1970-1974), with the primary objective being the physical and economic integration of the national territory. For the vast majority, the rural settlers’ hopes of a prosperous new life quickly floundered, given the absence of established market networks and transportation routes. These hardships combined with a lack of political will moved the rural world to eventually engineer the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), giving a voice to the politically and geographically marginalized.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Angolans were in a diametrically different situation, as from 1961 until 2002 they suffered through two consecutive wars. Angolans today are now experiencing their first modern-day period of relative economic and social stability. And yet, the rural populations find themselves in a position similar to that of their Brazilian counterparts of the 1960s: largely inexistent political support, lacking access to investment capital, chronically underfunded social services, a lack of market and infrastructure networks, and living in an increasingly precarious property regime. Fighting against similar isolation and marginalization, how far will the Angolan government allow the rural populations to organize?

Brad Safarik is a doctoral student at Sciences Po Bordeaux and the research centre Les Afriques dans le Monde (LAM, Bordeaux). He works on a comparative study of rural social organizing on Angola, supported by the experience of Brazil. His main interests lie in urban-rural dynamics, peace and conflict studies, and new democratic spaces in developing countries.