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Lia Pinheiro Barbosa, The Journal of Peasant Studies

15 February 2016

Educação do Campo

Education for and by the countryside as a political project in the context of the struggle for land in Brazil

Keywords: Educação do Campo; MST; social movements; rural education; Brazil;
PRONERA; epistemology

Latin American and Brazilian rural social movements believe that significant social
transformation requires the collective construction of a political project of an
historical character. Education is conceived as an historical–cultural and political
project to transform the peasantry into an historical subject through emancipatory
educational–pedagogical praxis. The Landless Workers Movement (MST), the most
emblematic peasant movement in Brazil, has played the leading role in this debate,
which also includes many other peasant organizations.

The MST has identified education as the key element in forging an historical–political actor out of the landless peasantry. This is articulated through the struggle for education for rural peoples, and along a theoretical–epistemic axis that revolves around the emergent concept of Educação do Campo (‘Education for and by the Countryside’). I ask how the MST conceptualizes education, and what the role is of education in strengthening peasant resistance and sharpening the dispute between political projects for the countryside. I focus on the epistemic dimensions of the concepts of education and pedagogy in the trajectory of the MST in Brazil, and I examine Educação do Campo as an educational-political project and in terms of policy conquests in the political dispute between the rival political projects for the Brazilian countryside of peasants and capital.


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