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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Eduardo Georjão Fernandes – Controlling dissent: new surveillance technologies and the policing of social movements in Brazil

At 5pm, Eduardo Georjão Fernandes will speak about his research on how police forces employ new surveillance technologies to control grassroots dissent in Brazil

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In his research, Eduardo Georjão Fernandes seeks to study mechanisms of control and surveillance in interaction with social mobilization. Specifically, his research project focuses on the analysis of how new surveillance technologies have been incorporated into the policing of social movements in recent Brazilian context. In that country, the occurrence of a huge mobilization process, the cycle of protests of 2013 (also known as “Jornadas de junho”), has brought to the fore several questions about the ways in which police institutions control social movements. On the other hand, Brazil has recently hosted important mega events, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. For the security of such mega events, a technological apparatus was created, with the construction of control centers that congregate different institutions and develop monitoring activities using technological devices. Based on this context, this study seeks to investigate the following question: how does the interaction between these parallel processes (huge mobilizations and technological investment) transform the policing strategies to control social movements? The theoretical framework is primarily based on contentious politics literature, specifically in what refers to the concepts of policing strategies and policing styles, combined with contributions from surveillance studies. Methodologically, the research is based on a qualitative approach to study a specific case – the city of Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2013. The analysis is divided in 3 steps: (1) identifying policing tactics and strategies; (2) describing the dimensions that interact in the construction of these strategies; (3) explaining, by causal mechanisms, the specific role of surveillance technologies in this context. The results indicate that tactics derived from distinct policing styles were adopted (sometimes, simultaneously) during the events, characterizing a moment of experimentation and the configuration of hybrid strategies. The production of these policing strategies resulted from interactions with protesters, the media, the local government and a civil rights coalition. The role of technologies in these interactions was explained by two main mechanisms: anticipation, which means the emphasis on a preventive logic of policing to avoid surprises or unexpected situations and to retain the control of public sphere; invisibilization, which means that technologies make repression less visible and thus less exposed to criticism.

News

22/07/2019

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 15 March 2019, in 13 European cities. A multi-country collaboration report, with contributions from COSMOS researchers Lorenzo Zamponi, Donatella della Porta, Martín Portos, Niccolò Bertuzzi and Daniela Chironi.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

Publications

Journal Article - 2019

From the Rainy Place to the Burnt Palace: How Social Movements Form their Political Strategies. The Case of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba

Leonidas Oikonomakis
Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.

Journal Article - 2019

The Modern Prince and the Sociological Imagination

Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Michael Burawoy
Michael Burawoy in Conversation with Riccardo Emilio Chesta