Gabriel Souza Bastos

Biography

Gabriel Souza Bastos is a Brazilian researcher-activist, PhD student in Social Sciences, Development, Agriculture and Society at the Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (CPDA/UFRRJ) and member of the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL). Gabriel worked in research for the State Truth Commission of Rio de Janeiro (CEV-RJ), investigating cases of human rights violations, conflicts and repression of the corporate-military dictatorship in rural areas of the state. Currently, he is deepening this research in his PhD thesis. His main research interests are collective memory about repression and corporate-military dictatorship; land conflicts and peasant social movements.

Abstract

Memory, identity and peasant resistance in Pedra Lisa, Rio de Janeiro

The main intention of this work is to analyze how the process of the social construction of memory takes place in the region of Pedra Lisa, located in the countryside of the cities of Nova Iguaçu and Japeri, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which went through intense land conflicts in the decades of 1950 and 1960 and political repression during the corporate-military dictatorship. In these decades, the region’s association of rural workers was engaged both in a judicial and armed struggle against attempts of forced displacement carried out by farmers and land grabbers, making articulations with the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), unions, the progressive local press and a state federation of rural workers. The peasant struggles were understood by the military as possible guerrilla preparation outbreaks and treated with extreme violence. The theme is extensively explored in the Military Police Inquiry (IPM) 709, which investigated the actions of the Communist Party: On several passages of this document, there is a clear concern about land conflicts surrounding the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was the federal capital until 1960. After a process of political persecution and repression in the decades of 1960 and 1970, carried out by the military, which consisted in arrestments, kidnappings, physical aggressions, murders, torture and the destruction of the association’s headquarters, houses and crops, the peasant political mobilization returned to this region only in the decade of 1980, inspired by the liberation theology, in the context of the end of the corporate-military dictatorship, involving former actors and continuing past conflicts. Nowadays we find in Pedra Lisa multiple agents of elaboration and interpretation of this memory under different identities and mnemonic interpretations. Categories such as “peasant”, “invader”, “land grabber”, “squatters”, “communists”, “military coup”, and “revolution” are within a dispute both of identity and memory. Thus, through an ethnographic and historical documental analysis of the region’s land conflicts, we seek to comprehend the social memory dynamics of multiple agents, such as families, members of different political associations and former and current activists in this rural community.

Affiliation: Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro