Image: Stela Grespan


The planned investment in cross-cultural communicational educational practices is built from the point of view that understands knowledge and power as a result of multiple discursive constructions

Xenophobia, BLM (Black Lives Matter), historical revisionism, political correctness, anti-globalism, sustainable development, prosperity theology, place of speech… that a large part of humanity finds itself immersed. And “battlefield” is not a metaphor used here at random: we are indeed living in a very conflicted time; wanting to preserve naivety is not a wise attitude.

All the expressions evoked at the opening of this text are discursive labels, and, as M. Foucault says, “[…] discourse is not simply what translates struggles or systems of domination, but what one fights for, the power we want to seize” (in: The order of speech). Therefore, it is not difficult to agree: the figure and background of countless current conflicts around the world are precisely the discourse, the power to (re)create and (re)shape interpretations of these worlds, a power that for some time now reduces local interests, individual or corporate, the perfumery in the vampire theater of the big transnational financial capital (speculative, above all things).

Faced with such power, it is necessary to abandon innocence and assume that, like some martial arts, one must use the enemy's strength against him. That is: only discursively – stricto sensu – the progressive camp will find some effectiveness in combating the oppressor. As? I have a proposal: with empathy and investment in transcultural communicational educational practices.

the empathy

A few days ago I read on the news that an orca calf had run aground on a beach in Bahia. Some people were willing to try to save him, making great efforts to get him back to the sea. They soon realized that there was something wrong with the animal: it didn't show any reaction, it didn't make an effort to free itself. He appeared to be very sick, a hypothesis confirmed by the team of professionals who joined the group in an effort to return the animal to the water. The task would not be easy, and cameras captured the moment when several men tried to roll the cetacean, in vain. He really did not react and, as he was already in extreme pain, the professionals performed euthanasia.

It's clear that the people committed to saving the orca calf were empathetic. From the first person who approached him to the veterinarian (or biologist...) who shortened his death, everyone was sympathetic to the animal, put themselves in his place and, when it became evident that his death was certain, someone qualified to do so took care of it. make her come soon.

This prosaic conception of empathy is not enough to effectively combat obscurantist gregariousness (religious, militia or any other), neo-fascism, necropolitics, much less the ultraliberalism in which we are stuck. To successfully fight these giants – which look nothing like harmless windmills – it is essential to understand and embrace empathy in a deeper and more radical way. Let's go back to the orcas.

One day, some soulless human being had the dazzling idea of ​​capturing an orca and exposing it in an aquarium for the delight of other human beings, indifferent to the animal's suffering. Years later, he rebels and, taking advantage of the moment of distraction of another human, he captures him, takes him into the water and mutilates and drowns him in front of dozens of impotent people, some of them still wielding their camcorders. . The lesson given by Tilikum, the male orca that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, is transparent: when man adopts the law of the jungle (or the ocean), he takes the risk of not always being the strongest. That simple.

The empathy that serves the progressive field cannot be coated only with the kind of good will (somewhat naive and paternalistic) that has those who team up with half a dozen acquaintances to, in the face of an unusual event, try to bring an orca back to sea. The empathy that serves the progressive field is one that does not neglect the fact that, once in the water, it is the orca that will decide whether the man who shares the same space with her will survive or not.

Support NGOs and social projects, raise rashtags, sealing the nets, canceling enemies… all of this is valid, but it is also a bit like being safe, with your feet on the ground, and pushing a sick baby orca into the open sea (“go there, baby! I'll give you a strength and then, with your own effort, you manage to survive industrial fishing nets, sharks and other hungry orcas!”). [#SQN].There is no other alternative for those who think they are progressive than to understand, once and for all, that we are, yes!, all in a big aquarium (planet Earth) swimming more or less calmly with Tilikum (the millions of miserable and martyred on all continents). We can no longer afford to neglect the risk that he will finally get really angry – and with good reason, by the way. Wispy beards, tousled locks and Che Guevara-print shirts won't keep you calm for much longer. Urge to act for real!

Less out of fear, more out of empathy: as I stated here on this site in a previous text, “[We Brazilians] live in a racist, sexist, homophobic and elitist country: few of us escape unscathed from all these scrutiny […]”. Thinking about the discursive battlefield through this prism, each one of us is, at the same time, a murderous orca, and another, helpless.


Communicational and cross-cultural education

Life and art imitate each other: the Joker (protagonist after whom Todd Phillips' film is named) is Tilikum; the violent removal of family affection, the mistreatment, the indifference of the people, the negligence of the State, the latent madness full of spikes and blind spots…all of this lived and dammed up over the years one day bursts into violence and chaos. Probably something very similar will happen in relation to the planet, which has been attacked for much longer. We have already had small samples of what our environmental Tilikum will be like, global warming, melting glaciers, floods on the coast, desertification in the interior of continents, hurricanes, seaquakes, millions of deaths… Here is a (dialectical) articulation of facts and images which may very well be present in classes (face-to-face or distance) in Literature, Science, Geography, Sociology, Philosophy, or, preferably, in rounds of transdisciplinary conversations (conversations!) about affection, mental health, life in society… preferably in environments less inhospitable than classrooms.

In Greek theater, Medea (by Euripides) was Tilikum against affective irresponsibility and parental abandonment – ​​how can we disagree? –, but in the great open-air Brazilian opera, Joãozinho Trinta’s censored Christ and Martinho’s Kizomba were also censored in the face of racism (religious or not). Malcolm X and Lampião, each in their own way, were Tilikum, and certainly there are many of them in Lunga's force (the cangaceiro queer of “Bacurau” by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles) against the foreign sociopathic threat. Mandela's resilience was Tilikum, who, even imprisoned and practically incommunicado, liquidated the official South African policy of apartheid racial, giving a black face and body to the power and eloquence of the speech impossible to be silenced, exactly as the memory of Marielle Franco will do before the astonished militiamen.

Tilikum, my “rhetorical-dialectical mascot”, certainly wasn't born or became good or bad. Minutes before the fatal attack on the trainer, he made the joy of hundreds of people, acting exactly as he had been trained to act, until he decided not to fulfill the task anymore. script which they had pretentiously imposed on him. It became evident, then, that power in fact results from circumstantial arrangements, it is a matter of opportunity. It is necessary to consider this, and, in Brazil, at least, the progressive forces – institutionalized or not – it is past time to shape our educational practices for the effective dissemination of this truly liberating knowledge.

Educational practices that privilege dialogue, presuppose the non-hierarchization of knowledge and stimulate critical reasoning of social realities comprise, in short, what Paulo Freire called education for liberation decades ago. If, in addition to all this, these practices also value and seek to use the constantly updatable media and technological resources that are available today in order to encourage the transit of information and symbolic references, aiming at the best possible experience of sharing the common ( the universal set of natural, symbolic and cultural values, sensible and/or intelligible, cf. Muniz Sodré teaches), we have, then, a transcultural communicational education.

I believe that, empirically, there are already embryos of initiatives thus put into practice, awaiting pedagogical systematization – detailed description and development of strategies for their application to teaching. I think, for example, of the movement of Marvel studios in films like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and in the last two of the series Avengers (Infinity war e Ultimatum). These titles are pervaded, some more and others less clearly, by racial and gender issues. It can be said that Afro Futurism frames Black Panther, something that, it seems to me, does not happen with feminism in Captain Marvel. On the other hand, in Ultimatum there is more than one moment in which female characters assume absolute protagonism. Commercial interest? Yes. But also critical vision and political positioning; therefore discursive.

Also in the carnival of the great samba schools of Rio de Janeiro, we have witnessed, in recent years, the resurgence of a tradition of great plots and critical parades to the status quo. This was the case with GRES Unidos do Tuiuti in 2018, when the association reached 2nd place in the general classification, criticizing modern slavery (fostered by ultraliberal ideas that keep “social captivity” active) with an anthological samba-plot, beautiful floats and a highlight dressed as a great presidential vampire, in clear allusion to Michel Temer. It was also like this with GRES Estação Primeira de Mangueira in 2019, the year in which the school was champion telling and singing, in a high-sounding Marxist bias, “the story that history does not tell”: “Brazil’s turn has come, to listen to the Marias, Mahins, Marielles, malês”… Discourse.

I also recall, finally, but no less emblematic, the anti-racist protests against the murder of George Floyd in the USA; the attitude of black NBA players (who demanded changes in advertising contracts in order for the broadcast of games to give greater visibility to the movement BLM); the quilombism that inspires countless collectives and institutions (private, including) mostly black in Brazil, generating income and guaranteeing dignity for thousands of people; the harsh reaction of black intellectuals to Lilia Schwarcz's criticism of the recently released visual album black is king, by Beyoncé… All of these are mostly discursive manifestations, that is, they are positions taken from a critical conscience regarding the dynamics of forces that govern social, political and economic relations throughout our terrestrial aquarium. Apparently, there are many Tilikuns rebelling around.

We cannot disperse the group; we can not let the samba die. We must promote and spread the discussion about these themes from the comparison of facts, images, events, texts... with news, memes, textbooks, song lyrics, theatrical texts, data resulting from statistical research, etc., without ever neglecting the small aquarium you eventually find yourself in: at school, the discipline, the grade, the socioeconomic stratum of the students…; outside of it, the character of the space in which the activity takes place, the age profile and the level of schooling of the public... Without ever forgetting or letting people forget that no aquarium is the only possible one.

Initiatives such as those mentioned (by Marvel, by some samba schools in Rio, by NBA players, by Beyoncé...) clearly indicate the viability of a deliberate discursive combat against the march forward of racism, fascism, ultraliberalism, necropolitics… even if this combat does not receive such an epistemological label. In the very serious moment we live in, theory can only guide us, and give way for affection and practical action to free us from the growing banalization of evil (cf. Hannah Arendt) around us.

Finally, the planned investment in transcultural communicational educational practices is based on a perspective that understands knowledge and power as a result of multiple discursive constructions (coactive and constricting, therefore, Foucault says) that leave marks in times, spaces and spaces. subjects. It is possible to identify such marks and confront them. For this, such an investment also demands the incorporation, on the part of its agents, of a sincere, plain and realistic empathy, which inescapably motivates us to seek and carry out the joint liberation of all of us, as Paulo Freire intended.

It is, therefore, a proposition as difficult as it is urgent.

* Luciano Nascimento He holds a PhD in Literature (UFSC) and teaches Basic, Technical and Technological Education at Colégio Pedro II.

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