The main focus of the course is the construction of national identity in modern Brazil, exploring the different processes that led to a range of cultural representations. The course will start examining the concepts of race, racism and ethnicity in a comparative perspective, and will then discuss the issues of miscigenação, or the myth of racial democracy, and the contemporary politics of identity. Through the analysis of Brazilian modernism in architecture and culture, students will become acquainted with the dimension of Brazil as a future-oriented country. A special focus of the course will be the study of the African slave trade until the abolition of slavery in 1888: during their visit to Bahia, students will be exposed to the ground-breaking work of photographer Pierre Verger.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Articulate the many dimensions of Brazilian cultural identity
- Conceptualize race and ethnicity in a comparative perspective
- Study the religious experience in Brazilian culture and society
- Elaborate on the notion of Brazil as land of the future
Class discussions, guest lectures, film viewings, field studies, and Moodle.
Class participation (20%); midterm exam (25%); field project and presentation (30%); final exam (25%).
Field project: Students will participate in a hands-on project on one of the following topics: Expats in Paradise, and Spaces of Memory. Based on a series of interviews and field studies (Rio story walks), under the instructor’s supervision they will construct both an itinerary and a narrative to reflect on their own experience of the city of Rio. Students will submit a 10-page essay using different media and will present their results at the end of the course.
Week 1: Introduction to the course.
Required readings: Barth, Fredrik: 1-37; Fredrikson, George: “The Historical Origins and Development of Racism”, at http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-01.htm
Week 2: Conceptualizing race, ethnicity, and racism.
Required readings: Fanon, Frantz: 1-16; Dikotter, Frank: Preface, I-X.
Field study: Rio story walk (1): Old Rio.
Week 3: Race and Nation in Brazil (1).
Required readings: Freyre, Gilberto: The Master and the Slaves, chapters 1 and 4; “Rise of the College Graduate and the Mulatto”, in: The Mansion and the Shanties.
Week 4: Race and Nation in Brazil (2).
Required reading: Skidmore, Thomas: 173-218.
Field study: Catete Palace
Week 5: Designing Brazilian Modernity.
Required readings: Holston, James: chapters 1 and 8; Cavalcanti, Lauro: 6-37, 204-223.
Week 6: Futebol and cultural identity. Midterm exam
Required readings: Bellos, Alex: chapters 2 and 3; Fernandes Maranhão, Thiago: 1-16.
Week 7: Representing culture (1).
Required reading: Verger, Pierre: 208-237.
Week 8: Representing culture (2).
Required readings: Castro, Ruy: chapters 2 and 5.
Film viewings: Camus, Marcel: Black Orpheus; Meirelles, Fernando: City of God.
Week 9: Globalization, social differentiation, and politics of identity.
Required readings: Telles, Edward: 1-46; Patai, Daphne: 293-312.
Week 10: Religion and mediation.
Required readings: Bastide, Roger: 240-260; Burdick, John 1-51.
Field study: Anastacia Church
Week 11: Nation and exclusion.
Required readings: Biehl, João: 1-35; Larreta, Enrique: 141-166.
Field study: Rio story walk (2): Favela de Santa Marta.
Week 12: A reflection on The Land of the Future. Student presentations.
Required reading: Zweig, Stefan: chapters 3 and 10.
- Barth, Fredrik. Ethnics Group and Boundaries. Waveland Press, 1998.
- Bastide, Roger. The African Religions of Brazil. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
- Bellos, Alex. Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. New York and London, Bloomsbury: 2003.
- Cavalcanti, Lauro (ed). Roberto Burle Marx: The Modernity of Landscape. Barcelona and New York, Actar: 2011.
- Biehl, João. Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment. University of California Press, 2005.
- Burdick, John. Blessed Anastacia: Women, Race, and Popular Christianity in Brazil. New York, Routledge: 1998.
- Castro, Ruy. Rio de Janeiro: Carnival under Fire. London, Bloomsbury: 2004.
- Dikotter, Frank. The Discourse of Race in Modern China. Hong Kong University Press, 1992.
- Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. New York, Grove Press: 2008.
- Fernandes Maranhão, Thiago. “Futebol Mulato: Racial Construct in Brazilian Football”, in: Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal, Vol.3, No.2. Univeristy of Technology, Sydney, 2011.
- Fredrikson, George. Racism: A Short History. Princeton University Press, 2003.
- Freyre, Gilberto. The Masters and the Slaves. New York: Knopf, 1946.
- The Mansions and the Shanties. University of California Press, 1987.
- Holston, James. Brasilia: The Modernist City. University of Chicago Press, 1989.
- Patai, Daphne. Brazilian Women Speak. Rutgers University Press, 1988.
- Rodriguez Larreta, Enrique. Gold is Illusion: The Garimpeiros of the Tapajos Valley in the Brazilian Amazonia. Stockholm University Press, 2002.
- Skidmore, Thomas. Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought. Duke University Press, 1993.
- Telles, Edward. Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil. Princeton University Press, 2005.
- Verger, Pierre. The Go-Between: Photographies (1932-1962). New York, DAP: 1993. Zweig, Stefan. Brazil: A Land of the Future. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 2007 (1941).
Enrique Larreta earned his Ph.D in Social Anthropology from Stockholm University (Sweden). Among other works, he has published Gold is Illusion: The Garimpeiros of Tapajos Valley in the Brazilian Amazon (2003), and Gilberto Freyre: A Cultural Biography (2008). He has extensively taught, both in Brazil and abroad, at the Universidade Candido Mendes, Stockholm University, and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Enrique is Director of the Institute of Cultural Pluralism at Candido Mendes University, and his current research is on cultural and social transformations in Brazil and China in the age of globalization.