Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Student resistance to the dictatorship in the social imagination of Brazil in 1968
José Luis Hernandez Huerta

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


The 1960s were characterised, amongst other things, by the emergence and intensification of the activity of social, cultural and political movements wishing to make the world a better place – more habitable, free, fair and supportive.

These new movements were especially significant in university spheres, both in countries under to military dictatorships and ones which enjoyed a certain amount of democracy. In the former case, higher education centres became centres over political action – in a manner of speaking, havens where the ideology, criticism and aspirations of social, cultural and political emancipation lived on, albeit in secret. In the latter case, the student movements linked to the New Left laboured to spread the idea of democracy, revising its historical content and calling for a more participative approach. In both cases, students fought to play an active part in the creation of history and, although they were prevented from pragmatic protagonist roles, they pushed for utopia. Paradigmatic examples of both cases are the protests that took place during 1968 on a worldwide scale. Although Mai 68 in France may be the one which has passed into legend, there were major hubs of student mobilisation in countries the world over.

Indeed, Brazil, which had been under the yoke of a military dictatorship since 1964, did not escape the stream of international activism. On the contrary, firstly, in that geopolitical arena, the student movement was one of the foremost actors on the university scene, set up as a social and political body, livelier, more dynamic and more wholly committed to modernising Brazil’s universities. Secondly, it was one of the most representative forms of resistance against the military dictatorship, begun four years before, and against the cultural and economic colonisation from the USA, in the form of the MEC-USAID agreements. During 1968, particularly between March and October, the mobilisations and activities of students were especially intense, reaching a climax on 26 June, with the Passeata dos Cem Mil (March of the One Hundred Thousand), which took place in Rio de Janeiro. These student activities came to an end in December, with Ato Institucional n. 5 (AI-5), marking the beginning of a new stage in the evolution of the dictatorship.

This contribution offers a detailed examination of the processes of construction and collection appropriation of university students’ symbolic imaginations through the streams of public opinion generated by the daily press in Brazil during times of political and social upheaval. In concrete terms, the paper analyses the public representations staged by the student movements, their motivations, demands and aspirations, their capacity for social mobilisation and negotiation with the State, and their role as an active social body in the country’s university politics, shaped by the narrative constructed by the Brazilian daily press during 1968. The documentary sources used were editorials, opinion pieces, chronicles, interviews, news items and photographs – 212 items, in total – on the topic of study, published in Correio do Povo.