Public Education Under Attack in Brazil

November 28, 2019

Newton Duarte in Conversation with Samir Gandesha

Thursday, November 28, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 1430, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

The right-wing wave in Brazil has caused the destruction of many public, institutional spaces that were created by democratic social groups since the end of the dictatorship in 1985. One of these institutional spaces that are being threatened is the public educational system in Brazil, and attacks occur on many levels and in many ways. For example, the ultraliberal economic policy has been subjecting public education to unbearable financial constraints. Teachers, as civil servants, are experiencing increasingly precarious salaries and working conditions. Obscurantism takes advantage of the fact that cultural and epistemological relativism and the learning-to-learn pedagogies of the last decades have resulted in a lack of confidence in the human capacity of knowing and intentionally transforming society and life. Ultraliberal ideology and obscurantist groups unite in a national crusade to subjugate educational institutions to the most backward and alienating views of knowledge, society, and life.


Newton Duarte is a Marxist Brazilian educator with more than three decades of engagement in a national movement named Historical-Critical Pedagogy, which was inspired by the educational ideas of Antonio Gramsci and Lev Vygotsky among others. As a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Humanities (September 2019–June 2020), Duarte is developing a study entitled “Beyond the Choice Between Neutrality and Indoctrination: Epistemological and Ethical Foundations of the Democratic School.”

Samir Gandesha has been a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (1995-97) and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Universität Potsdam (2001-2002). He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. He is currently editing a book entitled Spectres of Fascism (Pluto Press), co-editing (with Peyman Vahabzadeh) Beyond Phenomenology and Critique: Essays in Honour of Ian Angus (Arbeiter Ring), and preparing a manuscript on the “Neoliberal Personality.”