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DemCP colloquium - FLÁVIO EIRÓ (University of Groningen): "The 'real progressives': Identity politics and electoral competition in Pernambuco, Brazil"

When:We 06-10-2021 16:00 - 18:00

Research colloquium of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics

Flávio Eiró, University of Groningen, The “real progressives”: Identity politics and electoral competition in Pernambuco, Brazil


Contributing to the understanding of Brazil’s recent rearrangement of political forces, this paper discusses the ways political candidates imagine and perform politics in Pernambuco (Recife and Olinda). Interviewing and accompanying politicians from different political parties and their advisors during the 2018 and the 2020 elections, I analyse how they navigate the new political scenario and interpret the ways the urban poor engage with politics. I critically examine the tensions they experience in, on the one hand, attending to people’s direct needs and, on the other, the performance of what they consider a “truly noble politics”. Central to this conflict is the electoral competition for an ideal commonly framed by left-wing politicians as “real progressive politics”. As politicians from the centre succeed in mobilising voters using banners that were normally monopolised by the Left, topics such as cultural policies and Black identity become contested spaces. The way in which political pragmatism and identity politics clash for some and come together for others is crucial to understand recent transformations of local politics in Pernambuco.

About the speaker

Flávio Eiró, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts (Minorities & Multilingualism), University of Groningen. He has conducted ethnographic research on electoral politics and conditional cash transfers in Northeast Brazil. Flávio has published widely on issues surrounding politics, poverty and anti-poverty policies, policy implementation, with a special focus on Brazil. In the Minorities & Multilingualism group, Flávio teaches and researches issues related to politics of diversity and minorities, with a focus on race and racism.