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From absent to present pasts: civil society, democracy and the shifting place of memory in Brazil

Ryan, HE (2016) From absent to present pasts: civil society, democracy and the shifting place of memory in Brazil. Journal of Civil Society, 12 (2). pp. 158-177. ISSN 1744-8689

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Abstract

This article takes Alexis de Tocqueville’s concern with the emotional life of citizens as a cue for exploring the role of collective memory within ‘the self-organizing sphere’ and asking how the invocation of memory affects progress towards democracy. The article hones in on the Brazilian experience, re-assessing Brazil’s amnesiac past as well as its much-lauded ‘turn to memory’. Against common assertions that Brazil’s ‘turn to memory’ will enhance the country’s democratic credentials, this article argues that the move from an ‘absent’ to a ‘present’ past in Brazil in fact bodes rather mixed prospects for the country’s democratic deepening.

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