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Carlyn Rodgers

Carly holds a B.A.(Hons.) in Global Development Studies with a minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and an M.Sc. in Brazil in Global Perspective from the Brazil Institute at King’s College London.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, the phenomenon of the NGOization and institutionalization of resistance and social mobilization emerged against the backdrop of neoliberal economic reform and the professionalization of development strategies. This economic restructuring shifted the role of the state allowing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to emerge as a recognized alternative source for services, thus entangling the relationship between civil society and NGOs. These institutions consequently became the sole provider of certain services leading to a codependent relationship. Ultimately, NGOs became surrogates responsible for answering the reasonable demands of civil society.

Although supported by the state and assuming some of the state’s previous (and oftentimes, assumed) role, NGOs became gatekeepers of civil society. They transformed not only the citizens’ relationship to the state, but also the ways in which they may organize to demand their rights as citizens. This transition in the relationship between the state, citizens, and NGOs has resulted in a further entrenchment of both civil society and its methods of organization with the agendas of NGOs. Not only did civil society turn towards NGOs, but NGOs also began to sublimate the struggles and demands of the marginalized members of civil society for their own agendas. Substantiated NGO projects became essential within the 21st century development agenda; thus, NGOs became reliant on local movements to provide them with this form of legitimacy. Ultimately, these shifts and further entrenched relationships have engendered conflicts of interest and problematic power dynamics that overshadow and manipulate social movements and their activists to the advantage of the agendas of these larger organizations. 

Brazil had a unique introduction to and experience with international NGOs during the process of re-democratization at the end of the 20th century. Similar to the global trends outlined above, these organizations sought to address core civil issues in the state’s absence. In recent years, particularly 2018, anti-racism projects addressing the racialized experiences of Afro-Brazilians have become central to the agendas of international NGOs working in Brazil, especially in urban areas. Subsequently, urban networks of pro-Black activists have become increasingly important within the projects and greater agendas of these organizations. Such a trend presents a unique case to investigate the NGOization of pro-Black activism in relation to agency and autonomy of pro-Black activists within spaces controlled and constructed by NGOs. Current literature on the NGOization of resistance has focused on its intersection with feminist, indigenous and environmental movements; however, it lacks a specific enquiry at the intersection of this trend with pro-Black activism. Yet, Brazil’s rich history of pro-Black activism and its unique historical relationship with international NGOs serves to expand the scope of current scholarship and provide enriching insights into this phenomenon within this national context.

Research Interests
Race, Gender, Social Movements, Alliance Politics, Anti-Racism, International NGOs and NGO Development Models, Urbanity and Urban Studies, Brazil

Supervisor: Dr. Mónica Moreno Figueroa