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Becoming Brazil

Drawing from history, anthropology, literature, and the arts, this seminar explores how Brazil’s becomings have been historically represented, both nationally and internationally, and the ways in which its peoples have evolved within or escaped and recast the frames of this imagined country.

Becoming Brazil

Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro

João Biehl, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology

Miqueias Mugge, associate research scholar, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

Marília Librandi, lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese

Capturing the world’s attention for over five centuries of colonialism and modernization, Brazil has offered natural resources for extraction and diverse social and political realities for the imagination of travelers and the work of scientists, academics, and artists alike.

Drawing from history, anthropology, literature, and the arts, this seminar explores how Brazil’s becomings have been historically represented, both nationally and internationally, and the ways in which its peoples have evolved within or escaped and recast the frames of this imagined country.

Working with multiple media, students will discuss the making of a “Brazilian culture” via music, sports, modernist art, and architecture, as well as the engineering of “economic miracles” and the articulation of insurgent forms of citizenship. The seminar will conclude with ethnographic reflections on how peoples are confronting today’s widespread precarity and how radical ideas of futurity are being articulated in the country’s peripheries.

Students will visit cultural and historical sites and engage with local intellectuals, artists, activists, and Brazilian students. During field trips to the megacity of São Paulo, to the colonial town of Paraty, and to the Atlantic Forest, students will be introduced to new forms of social mobilization and environmental politics. The seminar will include Portuguese language classes at various levels and will culminate with students’ productions of multimedia and artistic projects.

This seminar fulfills the Social Analysis (SA) general education requirement.

“Becoming Brazil” is a Brazil LAB (Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies) initiative.