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FOR 2757 (2019 - 2023)

Subproject E: Comparative Politics

The Organisation of University Education and Credit Lending in immigrant Communities of South Brazil

Brazil’s history of statehood is marked by many vicissitudes. After the end of the second Empire of Brazil, the republic, founded in 1891, was in many respects a weak state, especially in its outlying regions such as south Brazil. Getúlio Vargas with his authoritarian project of the Estado Novo (1937-1945) tried to improve the nationstate’s capacity for governance. He succeeded in strengthening the function of thecentral state, but not permanently. Functional and spatial fluctuations of state governance have likewise characterized the later periods of authoritarian and democratic rule. This subproject investigates two forms of local self-governance in South Brazil pertaining to the functions of socio-cultural and material foundations. It will analyse the complex relationships between national and local state governance on one hand, and the self-governance of local communities, on the other. The two case studies that are planned are situated in Santa Cruz do Sul (province Rio Grande do Sul) and focus on different areas of governance. The first case study investigates a facility of higher education, which took up earlier activities of German settlers. More precisely, the creation and functioning of the communitarian university UNISC will be analysed, which is run by members of civil society. The aim is to test the assumption that immigrants were an important factor in the creation of a thriving civil society. In the course of the ensuing developments, the different relations of limination within this immigrant communities had changed and were constituted anew. Analogous transformations are investigated in the second case study with a view to the generation of social capital in the economic sphere. The object of investigation will be the local credit cooperative Sicredi Vale do Rio Pardo in Santa Cruz do Sul, which is one of the first credit unions for farming credits in Brazil. Today, Sicredi is a model of participation, transparency and innovation for cooperatives in Brazil, not only due to its survival during the military dictatorship. From this perspective, a comparison with the collective narratives of the university UNISC as well as its strategies and contents of legitimation is of interest as well. Furthermore, local transformations and their limination effects will be analysed in a historical perspective, including path dependencies. An important aspect of both case studies will be to take into account what type of regime was exercising state rule. In the case of a regime change, it will be examined to what extent the relationship between local self-governance and state order was modified.