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Contradictions of Green Development: Human Rights and Environmental Norms in Light of Belo Monte Dam Activism

  • EVE Z. BRATMAN (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This paper offers a historical examination of the ways in which advocacy strategies and tactics have shifted in relation to political opportunities, using a case study of a hydroelectric dam project in the Brazilian Amazon, known as the Belo Monte Dam. Drawing on over three decades of resistance by transnational activist coalitions, the paper looks at how new tactics and political alignments have altered the dynamics of activism and norm diffusion in Brazilian domestic environmental, human rights and development policies. The paper argues that current theories of norm diffusion inadequately explain backslides and tend to underestimate the complexity of domestic political alignments. The case adds political insight to our understanding of the relationship of transnational advocacy strategy to environmental and human rights political realities in Brazil.

Spanish abstract

Este artículo ofrece un examen histórico de las formas en las que las tácticas y estrategias de defensa al medio ambiente han variado según las oportunidades políticas, utilizando como caso de estudio el proyecto de una hidroeléctrica en la Amazonia brasileña conocida como la presa de Belo Monte. Basándose en más de tres décadas de resistencia de parte de coaliciones de activistas transnacionales, este material se pregunta cómo las nuevas tácticas y nuevos alineamientos políticos han alterado las dinámicas del activismo y la difusión de normas en las políticas brasileñas relacionadas al medio ambiente, a los derechos humanos, y al desarrollo. El material señala que las actuales teorías de difusión de normas explican inadecuadamente los retrocesos y tienden a subestimar la complejidad de los alineamientos políticos domésticos. El caso contribuye a entender mejor, en términos políticos, la relación entre las estrategias transnacionales de activismo y las actuales realidades políticas medioambientales y de derechos humanos en Brasil.

Portuguese abstract

Este artigo apresenta um exame histórico das maneiras pelas quais estratégias e táticas de defesa de direitos têm mudado em relação às oportunidades políticas, utilizando como estudo de caso o projeto de uma hidrelétrica na Amazônia brasileira conhecida como Belo Monte. Usando como base mais de três décadas de resistência por coalizões de ativistas transnacionais, este artigo discute como novas táticas e alinhamentos políticos têm alterado as dinâmicas de ativismo e difusão de normas nas políticas brasileiras em relação ao meio ambiente, aos direitos humanos e ao desenvolvimento. O artigo argumenta que teorias atuais de difusão de normas explicam os retrocessos de maneira inadequada e tendem a subestimar a complexidade dos arranjos políticos domésticos. O caso insere conhecimento político ao nosso entendimento da relação entre estratégias transnacionais de ativismo e as realidades políticas, ambientais e de direitos humanos atuales no Brasil.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Thomas Risse , Stephen C. Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink (eds.), The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Kathryn Hochstetler , ‘After the Boomerang: Environmental Movements and Politics in the La Plata River Basin’, Global Environmental Politics, 2: 4 (2002), pp. 3557

Michele M. Betsill and Harriet Bulkeley , ‘Transnational Networks and Global Environmental Governance: The Cities for Climate Protection Program’, International Studies Quarterly, 48: 2 (2004), pp. 471–93

Kathryn Hochstetler and Margaret Keck , Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2007)

Jeffrey Checkel , ‘International Norms and Domestic Politics: Bridging the Rationalist–Constructivist Divide’, European Journal of International Relations, 3: 4 (1997), pp. 473–95

Timar Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein , ‘Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation’, Stanford Law Review, 51 (1999), pp. 683768

Kathryn Hochstetler , ‘The Politics of Environmental Licensing: Energy Projects of the Past and Future in Brazil’, Studies in Comparative International Development, 46: 4 (2011), pp. 349–71

Georgia O. Carvalho , ‘Environmental Resistance and the Politics of Energy Development in the Brazilian Amazon’, Journal of Environment and Development, 15: 3 (2006), pp. 257

Philip M. Fearnside , ‘Dams in the Amazon: Belo Monte and Brazil's Hydroelectric Development of the Xingu River Basin’, Environmental Management, 38: 1 (2006), pp. 1627

Russell A. Mittermeier , Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca , Anthony B. Rylands and Katrina Brandon , ‘A Brief History of Biodiversity Conservation in Brazil’, Conservation Biology, 19: 3 (2005), pp. 601–7

Janet Chernela , ‘The Politics of Mediation: Local–Global Interactions in the Central Amazon of Brazil’, American Anthropologist, 107: 4 (2005), pp. 620–31

Alison Brysk , ‘Turning Weakness into Strength: The Internationalization of Indian Rights’, Latin American Perspectives, 23: 2 (1996), p. 42

Stephen Schwartzman and Barbara Zimmerman , ‘Conservation Alliances with Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon’, Conservation Biology, 19: 3 (2005), pp. 721–7

Marina T. Campos and Daniel Nepstad , ‘Smallholders, the Amazon's New Conservationists’, Conservation Biology, 20: 5 (2006), pp. 1556–63

Miranda A. Schreurs and Elizabeth Economy (eds.), The Internationalization of Environmental Protection (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Stacy D. VanDeveer and Geoffrey D. Dabelko , ‘It's Capacity, Stupid: International Assistance and National Implementation’, Global Environmental Politics, 1: 2 (2001), pp. 1829

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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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