Theses Master's

Social Movement Evolution: The Effects of the 1964-1985 Military Dictatorship on Brazil’s Movimento Negro

Ardoin, Winston

To combat inequality and oppression, marginalized groups often mobilize to demand change. Despite vast amounts of literature characterizing and explaining social movements, few works have directly considered how movements evolve to maintain influence and relevance. Utilizing the case of the Movimento Negro (Brazil’s Black social movement), this thesis explores how changes in the movement’s structure, objectives, and actions have allowed for its success and resilience over time.

Since its inception, the movement has remained at the forefront of societal change by constantly adapting to new social and political structures which engender new manifestations of racism. To explain how the movement has evolved, this thesis specifically considers how and why the movement’s leaders adopted new objectives and tactics in response to the political and social upheaval of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship and subsequent redemocratization.

This thesis employs two research methods: a review of movement journals from before, during, and after the dictatorship and interviews with Afro-Brazilian activists. Based on the data collected, this work presents the following conclusion: The Movimento Negro gradually adopted a dual-focus advocacy model predicated on addressing inequality and racism both within popular culture and within the political foundation of the state, spurred by significant changes in political opportunity during the tumultuous latter half of the twenty-first century. Further, activists justified their updated tactics and objectives by advancing new injustice frames which recognized racism as systemic and attributed its root to political and social structures upheld by predominantly White elites.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Ikawa, Daniela
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
March 8, 2023