A pedagogy of oppression : the politics of literacy in Brazil, 1971–1989.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Vahl, Mônica Maciel

This thesis provides a historical and philosophical examination of the politics of literacy in Brazil between the years 1971 and 1989. Drawing on the work of Paulo Freire, I examine prevailing conceptions of literacy and illiteracy at that time and the relationship between those conceptions and the distribution of structural power within society. Data were collected variously from government publications and legislation, the proceedings of the National Congress, the reports of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, and articles from the print press. I argue that the military dictatorship provided conditions for the establishment of an effective pedagogy of oppression. Over the 1970s and 1980s, children, teenagers and adults were systematically targeted by anti-dialogical actions that denied their ontological vocation to become more fully human. Non-literates were seen as people without any meaningful culture or knowledge, and even those learning how to read and write faced oppressive practices of false generosity and cultural invasion. Therefore, not only prejudices against non-literates but also functional literacy learning practices worked as instruments to reinforce social injustices and maintain the unequal balance of structural power in Brazilian society.

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