When Forgetting Is Dangerous. Transitional Justice, Collective Remembrance and Brazil’s Shift to Far-Right Populism

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Burkle, Eduardo : Monteiro
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Global Campus of Human Rights
Transitional justice measures such as, inter alia, trials, truth commissions and institutional reforms or a lack thereof impact how societies deal with the past and help shape the collective memories of societies and its different groups. The aim of this paper is to analyse the Brazilian transition to democracy and how the lack of implementation of transitional justice measures, or their shortcomings, can explain the non-existence of a consensus towards its authoritarian past. By not having a shared understanding of its own past, we argue that the Brazilian democracy is prone to revive its authoritarian past, as shown by the recent wave of autocratisation it suffers. The rise of far-right populism in Brazil is linked to a dictatorship nostalgia, embodied in President Jair Bolsonaro and the intense presence of the military in his government. Without the proper reckoning with its past, Brazilian democracy displays an inherent weakness associated with its amnesia towards the military dictatorship (1964-85). Keywords: transitional justice, collective memory, Brazilian military dictatorship, populism.
Second semester University: Queen's University, Belfast.
transitional justice, Brazil, collective memory, dictatorship, populism, authoritarianism, truth commissions, democratisation