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Speaking of Flowers

Student Movements and the Making and Remembering of 1968 in Military Brazil

by Victoria Langland

Publication Year: 2013

Speaking of Flowers is an innovative study of student activism during Brazil's military dictatorship (1964–85) and an examination of the very notion of student activism, which changed dramatically in response to the student protests of 1968. Looking into what made students engage in national political affairs as students, rather than through other means, Victoria Langland traces a gradual, uneven shift in how they constructed, defended, and redefined their right to political participation, from emphasizing class, race, and gender privileges to organizing around other institutional and symbolic forms of political authority.

Embodying Cold War political and gendered tensions, Brazil's increasingly violent military government mounted fierce challenges to student political activity just as students were beginning to see themselves as representing an otherwise demobilized civil society. By challenging the students' political legitimacy at a pivotal moment, the dictatorship helped to ignite the student protests that exploded in 1968. In her attentive exploration of the years after 1968, Langland analyzes what the demonstrations of that year meant to later generations of Brazilian students, revealing how student activists mobilized collective memories in their subsequent political struggles.

Published by: Duke University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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p. vii-vii


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pp. ix-xvi

List of Acronyms

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pp. xvii-xx

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Introduction: Making and Remembering 1968 in Military Brazil

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pp. 1-18

In 1968 the song known as ‘‘Pra não dizer que não falei das flores’’ (So they don’t say I never spoke of flowers) by the singer and songwriter Geraldo Vandré enjoyed immense popularity among university students and other young people. Its rhythmical and lyrical invocations of street marches, encapsulated by its o≈cial title ‘‘Caminhando’’ (Walking), made this poignant...

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1. Constructing the ‘‘House of Democratic Resistance’’: Authority and Authenticity in University Student Politics, 1808–1955

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pp. 19-60

As university student activists gathered in Rio de Janeiro for a National Congress of Students in August 1951 they received a booklet to help guide their stay: ‘‘O Rio para o Universitário: Roteiro Turístico, Cultural e Informativo’’ (Rio for university students: a touristic, cultural, and informative itinerary) (figure 1.1).1 Containing helpful advice about navigating the city...

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2. Professional Students and Political Polarization: Contested Revolutions, 1956–1967

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pp. 61-106

When Celia Guevara came to Brazil in late May 1961 to speak at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, she preceded her famous son Ernesto ‘‘Che’’ Guevara by several months. In August Che, the Argentine-born revolutionary and Cuban minister of industry, passed through the country en route from a meeting of the Organization of American States (oas) in...

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3. From Martyrdom and Militancy to Memory: 1968 in Brazil

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pp. 107-166

On March 28, 1968, the Guanabara state police shot and killed Edson Luis de Lima Souto, a young secondary school student purportedly about to engage in a street demonstration in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Newspaper reports gave conflicting accounts as to whether the group of some three hundred to six hundred mostly secondary school students assembled outside...

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4. Dark Weather: The Post–’68 Storm, 1969–1973

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pp. 167-214

If the journalist Zuenir Ventura has called 1968 ‘‘the year that did not end,’’ and the historian Carlos Fico has labeled it ‘‘the year that ended badly,’’ one might also consider it the year that ended a few weeks early.1 For, looking back, December 13, 1968, seemed to mark an immediate turning point between the strident effervescence of 1968 and the stifling heaviness that...

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5. Rebuilding the House of Memories, 1974–1985

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pp. 215-244

In October 1973, a few months after the death of Alexandre Vannucchi Leme, security officials detained, tortured, and eventually murdered another important student activist, the president of une Honestino Guimarães.1 Guimarães had a long history of student movement activism and imprisonment. Since 1966 the police had arrested him on at least three...

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pp. 245-248

Forty-seven years after supporters of the Brazilian military regime set fire to the UNE building, a democratically elected Brazilian president and former regime opponent joined current and former student activists at 132 Praia de Flamengo Street in Rio de Janeiro for an important rite of remembrance and renewal. As one of his last acts before leaving office, ...


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pp. 249-290


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pp. 291-306


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pp. 307-326

E-ISBN-13: 9780822395614
E-ISBN-10: 0822395614
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822353126
Print-ISBN-10: 0822353121

Page Count: 346
Illustrations: 32 photographs, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1