Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Research Seminar

Pedagogies of Occupation: Free Time, Professionalization and Protest in Urban Brazil

Monday 15 May 2023
Pieter de la Court

Occupation: a military incursion, a disputed word hurled at a sovereign power, a term claimed by street protests as a radical utopian setting. Occupation: a profession or vocation—more optimistically, a calling, or more cynically, submission to unfreedom and exploitation. To occupy: to dwell, to claim, to seize, to possess. To be occupied: to be absorbed by, busied with, busy; to be overscheduled, out of time. Pedagogies of Occupation is a study of disputes over how young people in Brazil’s favelas should occupy their time. It is also a study of militarized police occupations, of after-school programs that target the perceived danger of free time, of hyperscheduled test-prep and professionalization programs, and of a youth-led protest movement that occupied a high school.

I bring all of these sites of analysis under the rubric of occupation—in its military, political, professional, spatial, and temporal senses—in order to show how contestations over the occupation of time and space fundamentally alter the routines, habits, and life trajectories of a generation of young people. Working with three ethnographically salient, interconnected understandings of the word occupation—as busyness, as profession, and as protest—Pedagogies of Occupation draws together anthropological conversations on education, policing and security, time and evasion under the framework of occupation.

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