Jan 19, 2024 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
The mosaic protest cycle: State-social movements dynamics and the 2013 Brazilian case

This presentation delves into two critical aspects within social movement literature: 1) the dynamics between the state and social movements, and 2) the contentious issues that tend to trigger street demonstrations. Both subjects are examined through a case study on the 2013 Brazilian protests, the largest demonstrations in Brazil since the 1980s re-democratization and standing out as a significant event in Western democracies.

Prof. Angela Alonso explains: Drawing on insights from my latest book, “Treze: a política de ruas de Lula a Dilma” (2023), which leverages a comprehensive dataset of protest events and interviews with movement leaders and government officials, I will present the following arguments: 1) The events of June 2013 constituted a protest cycle—a mosaic of diverse and simultaneous protests, each led one of three political activism fields, two on the left and one on the right of the government; 2) The demands of the protest cycle were intricately linked to three conflict zones (redistribution, morality, and violence) that surfaced in response to reforms proposed by the left-leaning government; 3) The genesis of the three political activism fields can be traced back to a transformative shift in the relationship between street politics and institutional politics in 2003, coinciding with the Workers’ Party assuming office in Brazil. Over a decade, these fields independently orchestrated minor demonstrations, steadily gaining momentum before converging in a synchronized protest in 2013.

The evidence presented in this case study aims to contribute to the debate on “new” far-right movements, challenges preconceptions by showcasing that demonstrations advocating traditional morality and authoritarian politics are not a recent phenomenon in Brazil. Furthermore, it leads to the hypothesis that when a reformist party assumes power, street mobilization emerges not only around reforms concerning the redistribution of opportunities and resources but also around the means of violence and the control of public and private morality.

Angela Alonso is a professor of Sociology at the University of São Paulo, and the coordinator of the Social Movements and Political Institutions research team at Cebrap (Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning). Currently, she is a visiting researcher at ALARI (Afro-Latin American Research Institute) -Hutchins Center, at Harvard University.

Alonso holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of São Paulo (2001) and pursued postdoc studies at Yale University (2009–10). She served as Cebrap’s president (2015-2019) and authored a political column for Folha de São Paulo (2016-2023).

She authors the books Ideias em Movimento: a geração 1870 na crise do Brasil-Império, 2001 (French edition: Idées en mouvement: La génération de 1870 dans la crise du Brésil-Empire, 2014); Joaquim Nabuco: os salões e as rua, 2007 (French edition: Joaquim Nabuco – Les salons et les rues, 2017). Flores, votos e balas: o movimento abolicionista brasileiro, 1868-1888, 2015 (English revised edition: The Last Abolition: the Brazilian abolitionist movement, 1868-1888, Cambridge U.P, 2021). Her latest book is Treze: a política de rua de Lula a Dilma (2023)

Aditionally, she co-edited Conflitos: fotografia e violência política no Brasil (1889-1964) (with Heloísa Espada, 2017) and co-authored with Paulo Markun the documentaries “Junho: o começo do avesso” (2020) and “Ecos de Junho” (2022), about Brazilian protests.

Alonso received the CNPq/Anpocs (National Social Sciences Association) award for best PhD in Social Sciences (2001), the John S. Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (2009), the Jabuti Prize for best book in Human Sciences in Brazil (2016) and the Brazilian Academy of Writers award for best book of the year (2016).

Currently, her research is on political assassinations.