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The Art of Being Indirect: Talking about Politics in Brazil

Essay Excerpt

In this article I analyze a debate among five leaders of one type of popular association that became important in the 1970s in Brazil, and which both observers and members considered to represent a "new way of doing politics." This type of association is called Sociedades de Amigos de Bairro (SAB), literally Neighborhood-Friends Associations, based in the poor working-class areas of Brazil's big cities. I do not focus my analysis on the content of the opinions expressed during the debate. Nor do I analyze the participants' conceptions of politics, their roles as working-class leaders, or their methods of organizing political participation - subjects about which they express considerable disagreement.' Rather, I focus on how their opinions and disagreements were voiced; that is, on the discourse strategies they employed to express opinions and disagreements, and to deal with conflicts. (Caldeira, 444) 

About the Author

Dr. Teresa Pires Do Rio Caldeira is a Professor of Anthropology at University of California Irvine. Her research focuses mainly on urban: social relations and life in the cities. The city of São Paulo has been the fundamental reference center in her analyses of social discrimination, spatial segregation and urban change; urban violence; citizenship, democracy and individual rights; social movements and popular political participation; relations between gender; youth cultures in the neoliberal world. The observations made in these fields of study are likely to be designed for many other major cities. Her book Ciudad de Muros [City of walls] published in 2001, earned her the Senior Book Award of the American Society of Ethnology.

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