Statement in Support of Critical Thought in Brazil’s Universities

The International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs opposes the recent efforts of the Brazilian government to cut funding for philosophy and sociology and to intervene in teaching and research to suppress left political views and to effect revisionist history of military dictatorships. Like other Latin American countries, Brazil has been a laboratory for neoliberal experiments focused on the expansion of the free market supported by the intensive militarization of society. Under the current regime, the autonomy of educational and arts institutions has been quickly undermined in favor of state control and censorship over cultural and intellectual life. The closing of art exhibitions considered controversial and the call to eliminate the teaching of gender in schools are but cases in point. All federal universities have already suffered cuts of 30 percent, at the same time that students are now encouraged to record and report teachers suspected of “indoctrinating” students with leftist views. What is happening in Brazil parallels developments in countries like Turkey and Hungary where program defunding and the suspension of academic freedom have had dire consequences for faculty and universities.

When governments target programs, fields of study, and art practices that introduce critical political thought, call into question the status quo, or offer alternative insights into the workings of power in the family and the state, they are targeting critical inquiry and the exercise of free and open debate in the academy. 

The International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs condemns government policies in Brazil that restrict critical thought, defund disciplines and programs crucial to the history and future of critical theory, and engage in censorship and revisionism. We call upon academic associations throughout the world to defend open critical inquiry in Brazil and elsewhere as the university increasingly becomes a target for authoritarian power.

-International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs
July 1, 2019