To get around the current dystopia, book reflects on the history of Latin America – 02/02/2021 – World

What was to be a kind of celebration of the 80 years of historian Maria Ligia Prado, of which at least 47 were devoted to the study of Latin American history, materialized in a work of more than 20 chapters in the purpose of presenting to the The Brazilian reader has reason to investigate its own affinities with its neighbors.

“I was, like I am, very desperate and very concerned about the evils of the government [de Jair] Bolsonaro, and it was clear that we were living in a time of dystopia, “Prado told Folha.” I thought of making a book that would be a counterpoint to this situation. “

“Latin American Utopias: Politics, Society, Culture” was therefore born from a mixture of concerns for the present and a search for opportunities to reflect on the past with a view to the future.

Besides Prado, professor emeritus at the University of São Paulo who signs the organization of the book, 25 other specialists, including historians, journalists and internationalists, share their knowledge on the political, social and cultural aspects of the countries of the bloc.

On the axis which deals with the political nuances of the continent, journalist Sylvia Colombo, Folha correspondent for Latin America since 2011, signs a chapter in which she seeks to explain, based on historical information, “why the project of Venezuelan Chavismo ended up transforming into a leftist dictatorship “and how Venezuela went from a period of economic strength to a nation that has become, for some, synonymous with” chaos, humanitarian crisis and example of authoritarianism “.

Despite the current negative image, however, Colombo criticizes how the phrase “become a Venezuela” has become a sort of threat used by political leaders as if the country is living under some sort of curse.

<< This is a pejorative phrase for Venezuela and for Venezuelans, which downplays all Venezuelan culture and the contribution the country has made to the rest of Latin America, both in the field of political history and in the cultural and social history. ," he said.

Colombo writes in his analysis that Hugo Chávez “disguised himself as a socialist hero” as the figure of Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan political leader who participated decisively in the processes of independence of Venezuela and other countries of America. from South. Chávez used his image as a justification for authoritarianism which “is not found in the writings of historical Bolívar”.

For his part, the dictator Nicolás Maduro uses images of Bolívar and Chávez to “support his own project to stay in power”, explains the journalist.

Maduro, she said, benefits from a system that uses the guise of democracy to try to disguise a dictatorship. “There are elections, but they are fraudulent. There is justice, but it is co-opted by Chavismo. So it’s a strategy that works [para o regime]. “

“Latin American Utopias” also tackles a series of ethno-racial and gender issues, such as the one in the article signed by Professor Flavio Thales Ribeiro Francisco, of the Federal University of ABC.

In his text, he addresses the rise of black subjects in Brazil and Colombia in the face of state policies that favor the marginalization of non-white groups.

For the expert, race relations in the two countries differ from the rhetoric of racial purity seen in places like the United States and South Africa, but that doesn’t mean they were less dangerous for blacks. .

Latin American racism, according to Francisco, is characterized by practices of recognition of black and indigenous cultures, which might seem like a step towards equity, but, at the same time, it is marked by the reproduction of racial hierarchies.

“It’s a celebration of whiteness without necessarily reproducing the discourse that nations were made by whites and whites,” explains the professor. “There is an elite which will celebrate this racial mixture or this cultural interbreeding while at the same time classifying the experiences of black and indigenous populations as past experiences, doomed to disappear.”

In Brazil, this dynamic has manifested itself in the form of state policies aimed at “laundering” the population through the arrival of European immigrants in the country.

In Colombia, which abolished slavery almost 40 years before Brazil in 1851, the strategy was to “make blacks invisible” through geographic isolation. By keeping the black population away from the eyes of the majority of white skin, the country has stimulated the formation of an imaginary without the presence of an Afro-Colombian identity.

In compiling these utopias and several other Latin American utopias, Prado said he had “hope as a compass, but without naivety”. For Folha, she was classified as “pessimistic in reason and optimist in will”.

“I belong to the generation of 1968, a generation that wanted to transform the world. I insist so much on the dimension of the future because, as the philosopher Karl Mannheim said, utopia is an essential part of what makes we humans, ”he told me.

The historian and some of the book’s co-authors take part in a series of virtual debates broadcast on the Editora Contexto YouTube channel. The schedule of lives scheduled for the next few days, as well as the discussions already broadcast, are available on the publisher’s social networks.

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