The CAPES assessment

Image: Bayram Er


Subjection and subalternity of the Brazilian graduate community to the Government

There was a public hearing held in the Chamber of Deputies on 18/10/2021, to discuss a public civil action claiming the “constitutionality of the evaluation of postgraduate activities by CAPES”, issues that can and should be better separated for the “well-being” of Brazilian citizenship.

One question concerns the legal area immediately: CAPES is accused of unconstitutional practice in the evaluations of graduate programs.

It does not seem to me that the conspiratorial notion that this process is a Bolsonarist initiative to destroy CAPES and the post is supported, not least because this process was already and continues to be successfully underway (for Bolsonaristas). The nomination of the current president of CAPES was registered as a true insult to the community (but not an insult to the representatives of the community in CAPES). Unfortunately, it is not surprising to hear voices from the graduate community now showing signs of being willing to ally themselves with the president in “defending CAPES”.

In this legal issue of constitutionality (or not), good citizenship recommends that the community recognize that this legal issue should be decided in the judiciary, with all the necessary appeals to take it to the STF if that is the case. If the community is to manifest itself, the manifestations should go beyond the contingencies of greater or lesser adaptation of each program or other “consequentialist” arguments put into play, say, by those privileged in the system. Ask yourself whether programs 3 and 4 are consistent with the refrain “CAPES is us”.

Professor Rodrigo Ribeiro's study, focusing on public civil action, focuses on a crucial aspect, which is constitutionality, but it could not be more than a small touch on CAPES' evaluation, which suffers from much more harmful and much more difficult to treat.

Other evils lead to the question: how can Brazilian graduate studies be evaluated?

My excessive optimism (I admit) and my visionary hope (I confess) is that this judicialization could mark a turning point in the subjection and subalternity of the Brazilian graduate community to the Government. This subjection and subalternity are trivialized through the CAPES evaluation “device”, among other accessories. In it, a structure is established where there are representatives of the area who, once there, with few exceptions, do not expose and discuss their ideas and values ​​about Brazilian postgraduate studies and it is no longer known what and who they represent.

Foucault, to quote a European who dared to think outside the box, told us that “devices” meet certain demands. In the case of the CAPES assessment device, what are the demands met? Shall we discuss them? Let's look at three different examples:

(1) Circumventing the question of competition as the main notion that organizes the evaluation – here it is enough to remember the very crude comparison of post-graduate activity with a Formula 1 championship! The image is as harmful as it is crude: it is harmful because it reinforces competition as a greater value for the evaluation of postgraduate work; it is clumsy for ignoring the abysmal gaps between the collectives of people and things involved in post and Formula 1 activities.

(2) Reinforce an outward-looking graduate program – evaluating programs (almost exclusively) on their ability to contribute articles to the “frontier of international science” is a (almost unforgivable) distortion. Something that could be one consideration among many others has become the only rule for granting access to high scores in CAPES and the resources that depend on them. The requirement to publish an article in English in a first-world journal to complete a doctorate in Brazil, as is done by some grade 7 programs, is an aberration. Asks another “visionary” teacher: … “… how to make the assessment cycle a learning cycle, where after closing the assessment we discuss and decide to create rules for the next period?

(3) The complicated and never-discussed question of the indiscriminate importation of research concepts, theories, problems, “objects” and “knowing subjects” introduced in the US and Europe in processes alien to the periphery of the West in which Brazil finds itself. The community, especially in the production of CHSSALLA, already has enough reflections on the subject to start a discussion for intervention in this discussion.

It is worth reading, for example, the article by Fabrício Neves, problematizing the “management of irrelevance”: Neves, FM “The peripherization of science and the elements of the irrelevance management regime”. In: Brazilian Journal of Social Sciences, v. 35, no.o. 104, 2020 (DOI: 10.1590/3510405/2020).

*Ivan da Costa Marques He is a professor at the Graduate Program in the History of Sciences and Techniques and Epistemology (HCTE) at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Brazil and market opening (Counterpoint).

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