Two I.S. Symposium Presentations

In both of the posters I observed, I saw parallels between Brazil and the US. In analyzing these parallels, I saw unique ways in which the US, Brazil, and other Latin American countries are fighting back against the same problems and systematic hierarchies.

  1. Machismo

I got to talk with the poster’s creator for a long time about the life of Mexican American women in Chicago, and the positive and negative impact of machismo that they experience. Machismo, deals with essentially the idea of toxic masculinity. Men are brought up in a culture where they are supposed to act a certain way. Otherwise, they are called out for it. Women are in the same boat, but are seen as subservient. As a result, Mexican American women are found to receive much emotional abuse from male partners.

One of her biggest findings from this study was that in contrast to people in Mexico, Mexican Americans, men and women alike, are fighting against this hierarchy of oppression. She found that many people believe that the both the oppressors and the oppressed can be victims of machismo. Their fight is based on finding their own identity, requiring them to challenge the system that seeks to rid them of that.

There is perhaps something to be said about America and American culture from this study. While sexism and the patriarchy still remains a problem in America, it would appear that fighting against the established order is deeply engrained in American society, both in modern times and historic times.

  1. LGBTQ Representation

In Danica’s poster, I got to see the amount of representation that lgbtq people receive in Brazil, as well as other Latin American countries. She found that the amount of representation this demographic gets can influence people’s views on same sex marriage. Danica analyzed and surveyed the impact of this representation in all different countries of Latin America using four different models. These models included church attendance, interest in politics, and even how preferences have changed from year to year. Given that the amount of representation varies depending on the country, she concluded that the amount of lgbtq representation does increase favorability of same sex marriage.

I’m not surprised with Danica’s results. A similar analysis could be made to the preference of race based on representation. The US government for example is currently predominately white. It is quite possible that racism levels would decrease if more people of color were to be elected to the different levels of government in the years to come.

While the US has made great strides towards sexuality equality, such as legalizing gay marriage nationwide, we still have a long way to go. Perhaps our goal should be to get more lgbtq people running for office. The election of transwoman Danica Roem in 2017 proves that a lgbtq candidates have a chance at winning elections.

What I’ve Learned: Music, Art & The World

  1. Music

I was completely unaware of the music scene in Brazil, as well as Latin America in general. Since being introduced to the music video Via Milandra, I have been listening to a lot of Brazilian music on my phone and discovering Brazilian artists that I like a lot. Just from listening, I’ve learned a lot about Brazilian music, its forms, styles, influences, and culture. I’ve observed that Brazilian pop music is highly influenced by American pop music. However, it contains many elements of Spanish sounding music, such as Spanish guitar and accordion.

  1. Film & TV

I was not aware that Brazil had a film and TV industry. American movies seem so dull and uncreative compared to the Brazilian films we watched in class. I was very intrigued in learning about the telenovela format and am actually curious to learn more about them, as well as watch some of them. It’s cool to see how Brazilian life and culture is reflected in its art and entertainment. It gave me great insight into what it’s like to live in Brazil, as well as how Brazil differs from the US.

  1. The Rest of The World Is Not So Different

It becomes very easy to live in a bubble. I had begun to think that the US was something special, and that our lifestyles and cultures were something unique, in both good and bad ways, from the rest of the world. In studying Brazil, its culture, politics, social issues, and everything else, I realized that Brazil struggles with many of the same problems that we do. I began to realize that the world beyond the US isn’t so different. In fact, in many ways, it’s the same. I realize that there are obvious differences between us and them, such as culture. However, throughout the course, I noticed many underlying and overlying parallels. By studying and analyzing these parallels, our problems seem much more solvable when we look at how Brazil is dealing with the same problems, and where they succeed and fall short.

3.5.  The Music of the Rest of the World Is Different

In my new fascination with Brazilian music, I have grown curious to learn what music from other countries is like. I have learned that as a composer, I need to escape my musical bubble of southern California American pop music and listen to the music of other countries. Aside from Brazil, my new craving for foreign music has (metaphorically) brought me to India, Argentina, South Korea, Egypt, Japan and Mexico. I hope to try writing a piece or pieces in one of these foreign styles. I look forward to seeing where else in the world my love for music and new curiosity for it will take me, as well as what I will learn about our world from it.

Lessons Learned

I’ve been really grateful that I’ve been able to be a member of this course. I thought that moving so far from home would mean spending long periods of time without hearing my own languages being spoken in public, and yet every lecture I got to see representation of my culture being discussed among students. It’s been amazing, and I’ve learned a ridiculous amount of information, but some major concepts have really stuck with me.

  • The Origins of a Mixed Population & the Racial Democracy Fallacy
    I knew coming in that Brazil had a diverse population, but this course really opened my eyes to an issue I was otherwise kept away from. How and why Portugal was able to import so many slaves, and the lasting impact their presence had in Brazil is one of the most crucial concepts someone could possibly learn from this class. This idea of a Racial Democracy wrecks havoc on society, and serves to disguise major ongoing issues that burden the lives of so many Brazilians today. On a personal note, I did some research and found out that my great-grandparents came to Brazil from Italy…right around the time of the Branqueamento. Yikes!
  • Gender Dynamics
    I’m glad I jumped on Beyond Carnival as fast as I did. Homosexuality isn’t really a subject to chat about over dinner, but I always knew that Brazil’s LGBT+ population was there. This book gave me such a great way to not only learn about the history of gay men, but also how masculinity was valued in Brazilian culture. On the opposite end, Marina’s I.S. on Martyrdom and Maternalism was so interesting, and drew a spotlight onto women’s roles in Brazilian society. Choosing my own book and having her knowledge in the classroom helped create a full image of gender in Brazil.
  • Culture of the Favelas
    I could only ever hear stories about the Favelas, and know basic facts about how they’re structured, but now I feel like I could talk freely about the culture within these neighborhoods.  This part of the course really drove home the need to address income and racial inequality in Brazil, along with geographic barriers. Pat yourself on the back for free health care, but that doesn’t matter if a mass portion of your population can’t even access it. It doesn’t make sense to talk about Brazil without addressing this glaring division in cities, and I’m glad we were able to explore it throughly.

When visiting Brazil, I would just alternate between farmland and cities, just visiting my family. I didn’t know enough about the actual ongoing issues in the country. This course really does mean a lot to me, as it helped resolve questions I’ve had about Brazil that no one was able to answer for me. I’ve truly learned so much, and really appreciate everyone’s contributions in helping each other learn more about Brazil.

Até logo gente.

Take aways from the class

The first takeaway is that I learned various methods of historical thinking. Relating historical event to current events, I was able to analyze how the root of a current event can trace back to complex historical events. Using method of analyzing current news and relating back to our class materials helped me think through the materials once more. Also, research project helped me think on a historical question that relates to the current issue, allowing me to read numerous primary sources. I think I learned a little more to think as a historian.

The second takeaway is that I learned how to use Wikipedia. Before the class, all I knew about Wikipedia is it is easy to access general information on a subject. I doubted that the information present on Wikipedia might be wrong. Learning about Wikipedia and actually writing as a Wikipedian was a new experience for me. This class allowed me to learn that creating a page in Wikipedia takes a lot of work. Although Wikipedia cannot be used as a scholarly work, it is great to learn a neutral point of view of a subject. It’s a great takeaway.

The last takeaway is that I was able to do presentations more comfortably. Previously, presentations were one of the things I hated the most. However, throughout the presentations in this class, I figured that presentations are not as difficult as it sounds. The class helped me to stay comfortable which encouraged me. Presentations became easier than before. Three components that I mentioned earlier are my major takeaway.

The 3 Most important Things I learned in modern Brazil

Throughout this class, Modern Brazil, I learned many interesting things about the country of Brazil, though to me, three stand out from the rest.  One important aspect of Brazil that I learned was how, similarly to America, Brazil is tremendously diverse in its people and cultures. In Brazil, you see people of all skins colors, as well as people with a wide range of cultures.  Additionally, I also think the skin color and the racial ties behind it hard important in Brazil.  In America, people tend to be labeled as black or white.  However, it is really interesting the people of Brazil are labeled as many different tones of skin color, with black and white only existing at the far ends of the spectrum.  Lastly, I was surprised at how important Fútol was to the people of Brazil, as it was continuously brought up in class.  Some Americans may be so obsessed with their favorite sports teams that they claim it is almost like a religion to them.  In Brazil, Fúbol truly is like a religion as it is largely the only significant sport practiced in the country.  A serious issue in Brazil, are the gangs formed by hardcore fans of Fúbol teams, who are often the cause of large amounts of violence. Additionally, the people of Brazil have found a source of national pride in Fúbol, because even though it is played all over the world, Brazilians are known to have formed their own, more skill-oriented style of play.

3 takeaways from the class

Modern Brazil by the History department was a class I initially picked for my cultural difference credit and tried to learn about the Brazilian culture more as I have Brazilian friends around. I learned so much more than I expected as I started to look at how social problems interact with race, white supremacy in the Brazilian society and immigration.
In Brazil, people stress about their income and social class to classify their social status. There is poverty among cities, and some Brazilians still live in the favelas, which the majority of them are racial minority. This has raised a question of their accessibility to resources, their educational opportunities and how did the environment impact their beliefs. Some scholars attribute to race problems. However, some data and demographics are not enough to interpret the social problems. Moreover, racism cannot conclude everything. It will worth exploring for me to observe the social dynamics in the Western society regarding race and socioeconomic status.
White supremacy has been a main trend in the western societies as they have multiple races exist in the society. Brazil is a good representation as well. In the Brazilian society, they portray racial democracy, which means that everyone is equal as a result of miscegenation, and everybody is whitening for the better. Nevertheless, this belief has stressed the whiteness and ignored other racial diversity. Many racial minorities have low self-esteem and try their best to whiten themselves instead of maintaining their original identity.
It is amazing to see Brazil is made up of immigrants from different corners of the world, as my initial thought was that Brazil was a country mainly with Portuguese heritage and some European immigrants. Brazil wanted immigration because King Pedro II saw the potential of having migrants and build up a new country. Immigration has made Brazil collect many people from different cultural backgrounds and work on plantations and explore new lands, as the immigrants had the motivation to strive for a better life. Nevertheless, not all the immigrants were welcomed at the same level, as the early policies strongly favored the Europeans, and the country showed ambivalent attitude toward Asian immigrants like the Chinese, which they were hired for labor. Establishing national identity based upon immigrants from different places was a hard work. Some cultures were included in the Brazilian identity, but some East Asian immigrants were excluded in the Brazilian identity.
Exploring the Brazilian society was an opportunity to look at western society social dynamics and think more critically on these social problems. This is only a start to learn multiple cultures, and it will be more to investigate beyond this class.

What was learned in Modern Brazil spring semester 2018

What did I learn this spring semester, well I did not know much about Brazil other than I knew that politics were all over the place and corruption was a wide spread activity. But what I really learned was that the Brazilian people are strong, culturally diverse group of people. That even though their is corruption in the Government there were people who are fighting for the the stop to corruption. How the police Brutality in Brazil is extreme, and how the government has deployed troops to fight a gang that is not even in that city. The last thing was the book report taught me about the dictatorship in Brazil during the mid 60s-mid 80s, and coming into the class i knew absolutely nothing about this military take over. I did not even know that the military took control of the Country. I would recommend this class to anyone because of how well it was taught and the interesting topics that we covered.

What I Learned

Reflecting back on the semester, I have learned a lot about Brazil. Perhaps more influential than some of the major topics we covered in readings, were the small conversations we had about Brazilian culture, like what to wear at the beach, or not having a big service after someone passes away. For the sake of this post, however, I will list my three biggest takeaways from the semester.

1: One thing I really enjoyed learning about was the history of slavery in Brazil, and how it led to the country claiming it was a racial “democracy”

2: Reading Making Samba helped open my eyes to the history of Brazil’s Afrocentric roots, being able to learn about a large part of the diaspora through music was gratifying for me, especially under the context of my Jr. IS

3: Lastly, learning about class differences in Brazil was a big takeaway for me. Learning more about the favelas and the police brutality that goes on there as well as other problems were harrowing and interesting at the same time.

What I Learned About Brazil This Semester

The first aspect of Brazilian society that I came to understand over the course of this semester was the country’s supplementation of concrete racial identities with more subtle social hierarchies, based on specific features of individuals including their skin tones and hair types. Those bearing a stronger resemblance to traditional standards of whiteness will wish to reserve geographic and cultural spaces for themselves, as self-identified white people have in places like the United States and Europe. People of darker skin complexion, larger hair, etc. will be left to develop their own cultural and economic infrastructure, albeit often with less material capital to build on.

The next major piece of information that I was able to glean from my experience in this class has been the extremely wide range of positions Brazilians have historically taken on issues of gender and sexuality. Ostensibly a religious celebration, the Brazilian Carnival included drag performances (such as those by Madame Satan) as early as 1942. However, a significant subset of the population continues to elect – or at least support – conservative and evangelical politicians who do not recognize the legitimacy of these preferences and identities. It is quite interesting to me, how this disparity in what very large segments of the public consider to be acceptable social norms has persisted for so many decades.

The final prominent feature of Brazilian society I learned of this semester has been the diversity of conditions one may find when examining community life in the favelas, along with that in other unplanned neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Favelas to the South are often quite prosperous and lacking in pervasive criminal activity, although they are also more in danger of gentrification and displacement due to their vistas and proximity to the city and ocean. Those in the North, meanwhile, have been decimated through deindustrialization, and are frequently subjected to violent power-struggles between the state and the cartels that occupy them. Families who have been evicted from any of these communities are typically driven to impoverished squatter settlements to the West, or drab concrete tenements located in certain regions of the city.

3 Takeaways from Modern Brazil

There was a lot of information covered in this class throughout the whole semester. Here is what I think were three important takeaways.

1.) Learning about how entities such as the Emperor of Brazil, Vargas, and the Dictatorship of the 1960s shaped the Brazilian Nation as we know it today. I never learned much about the historical origins of Brazil and the class revealed that to me.

2.) Racial Democracy was an unfamiliar term I encountered. It was a strange concept to me until I read into it further. It is an interesting approach to try and correct racial tensions. However, it did not work as intended. By exploring concepts such as “Blackness” and how that compares to our American perception was interesting.

3.) Learning how to use iMovie was a vital skill to have learned. I hate working with Apple software and hardware such as MacBooks and other Apple Applications. As a Windows and Linux person, this was a significant change to learn how the iMovie software works and making that video proved useful. I remember in Colonial Latin America that I did not use iMovie and I hastily put together my project. With this knowledge, I am ready to make other movies for my classes without pulling my lack of hair out.