In 1986, a group of young Brazilian women started a movement to secure economic rights for rural women and transform women’s roles in their homes and communities. Together with activists across the country, they built a new democracy in the wake of a military dictatorship. In Sustaining Activism, Jeffrey W. Rubin and Emma Sokoloff-Rubin tell the behind-the-scenes story of this remarkable movement. As a father-daughter team, they describe the challenges of ethnographic research and the way their collaboration gave them a unique window into a fiery struggle for equality.
In 2001, when Emma Sokoloff-Rubin was just twelve, her entire family, Jeffrey Rubin, his wife Shoshana and their three children, Emma the eldest, traveled together to southern Brazil. Jeffrey’s research there inspired nearly a decade of collaborative research into the Brazilian Women’s Movement of the Southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande Do Sul. Emma and Jeffrey interviewed activists over the course of that time. Their vivid descriptions of women’s lives reveal the hard work of sustaining a social movement in the years after initial victories, when the political way forward was no longer clear and the goal of remaking gender roles proved more difficult than activists had ever imagined. Highlighting the tensions within the movement about how best to effect change, Sustaining Activism ultimately shows that democracies need social movements in order to improve people’s lives and create a more just society, and that family relationships are another place to practice democratic principles. The result is a highly readable and enjoyable book that teaches more than the history of the Brazilian Women’s Movement. It also teaches us that collaboration is a journey that, remarkably, mirrors the struggle and triumphs of democracy.
To listen to and/or download Kathleen’s conversation with Emma Sokolof-Rubin click the following link:4-21-2014 Kathleen Emma Sokolof-Rubin Encore Presentation Originally aired 4-8-2013