The three most important things I learned this semester

I took this class with little to no pre-existing knowledge of Brazil’s history or its modern-day situation. Thus, I stood to gain a lot of knowledge from this class.

  1. I learned a great deal about race in Brazil. Learning about the complex ways in which race is constructed both historically and in modern Brazil has opened my eyes to the struggles people of color face in Brazil. Additionally, learning about race in Brazil in the context of American race relations helped me make fine grained comparisons that increased my understanding of the issues faced by people of color in Brazil and in the United States. Furthermore, learning about how the idea of race is not directly linked to skin color in Brazil made me think critically about how we perceive race in modern day America
  2. I learned a great deal about the Brazilian political situation that helped contextualize American politics and gave me an eye into the complexities of Brazilian politics. For instance, learning about the complex relationship the people of Brazil have with Lula gave insight into how class motivates people in Brazil and how it affects political decisions. On the other hand, the rise of Bolsonaro shows that Brazil is not immune to the trend towards right leaning populism affecting many Western countries today.
  3. I think getting to dig into the complex histories of the favelas has also been an enlightening experience because it shows again how class, gender and race intersect in unique ways, and how they all contribute to the unique social environment of the favelas. Furthermore, getting to better understand the citizen’s view of favelas, in that they are not necessarily looking to leave them or radically reshape them but secure them to make them safe and pleasant places to live.