Author Archives: Kennedey Bell

Three Important Things

Before taking this course, I knew very little about Brazil. My FYS was Latin America through the Arts, and we had spent time learning about capoeira and feijoada. I had also heard about Carmen Miranda but did not know a lot about her. Some of the most important things I have learned are:

  • It was interesting to learn about cannibalism and the views of Europeans/Portuguese/Spanish towards it. This may not be exceedingly important but as I love precolonial and postcolonial history, it was very interesting to learn. It shows how history can be skewed and how opinions differ for various cultural and historical difference and how people can be affected in similar cultures very differently.
  • I think it was important to learn different race theories. In the U.S., we learn mostly about the theory that if someone has a single African American relative, they will be identified as black. It’s very important to learn different race theories, like Brazil’s mestizo theory, because it helps us to understand how people in other countries are oppressed, especially if the oppression is different from what we experience/witness.
  • Finally, I learned a lot about Wikipedia which is very important. Growing up, we are taught to never use Wikipedia because it is something easily manipulated and is full of incorrect facts. By being trained on Wiki, I learn what a reputable article looks like and how I can use and understand Wiki to help me on future projects.

I.S. Symposium

Dylan Pederson:

The first I.S. presentation I went to was Dylan Pederson’s: One God, One Race, One Tongue: A Study of Racial Inequality in Colombia. His presentation was a study of forced displacement in Colombia due to military intervention created by the Colombian and U.S. government. He discussed many aspects of the issues, from personal interviews to inter/national policies and groups both helping and harming the citizens. I believe that his information was well-founded as he not only included the destruction from the Colombian government but also the U.S. government. However, I think his presentation style made the information seem uneasy. He paused in wrong place and seemed to put more focus on what seemed to not be the focus of his argument. I do believe that he portrayed the issues of the oppressed group well.


Marina Dias Lucena Adams:

The second Latin American I.S. presentation I attended was Marina’s presentation on the Movimento Feminino pela Anistia during the military coup of 1964. Her argument was that while the group was a very powerful political group made up of woman, it cannot be defined as a feminist organization. She defended this by showing the very traditional gender roles enforced by the group and the fact that feminist groups that began after the end of this movement did not claim the group. Marina showed a very balanced view of the group; without insulting the group and acknowledging their work as beneficial to the country, she also stated her opposing view of the group.

Muniz Documentary Discussion Questions

  • Does having prejudiced views take away from the small good that Muniz’s project did?

This is a difficult question to answer because depends, I think on whether Muniz’s goals were met. I think that his project did good in the fact that his portrait of Tião raised $50,000 for the pickers’ union which allowed them to, after the closing of the landfill, open a library and help people transition. However, he also treated them very condescendingly almost the entire time which can skew the message that he was trying to convey (which seemed to be that they are all unwanted, so it may have helped his message).

  • How do personal relationships affect views overall?

In the film, we see that Muniz does not seem to have a very good relationship with his wife—he talks over her and it is stated that he is going to be in Brazil for three years, yet we only see her once—and his relationship with Fabio seemed strained as well, as though they barely know each other. This inability to be close to the people around him reflect his questionable treatment of the pickers.

(Explosion): Change in Hour of the Star

Question: What is the purpose of “(explosion)” in the novel?

Throughout the novella, the narrator interjects his own commentary to explain what he means or to add that he does not like writing, Macabéa, any of the other characters, and various other opinions. He does this by either incorporating some paragraphs in first person to show that it is his mind or by adding remarks in parentheses at the end of a paragraph or in the middle of a sentence. However, there are many times that the narrator interjects “(explosion)” in the middle of a sentence and offers no explanation for it. This may be because the author himself does not know what he means, which is entirely plausible as he says many times that the writing is “above and beyond [me]. [He’s] not responsible for what [he’s] now writing” (63). Nevertheless, whether the narrator understands it or not, the word was included and therefore means something in the grander scheme of the novel. I argue that the interjection symbolizes moments of change or realization in Macabéa’s life.

This realization came first on page 33 of the novella, when Macabéa exclaims: “Ah month of May, never leave me again! (Explosion)”. This occurs after Macabéa stays home from work for the first time and learns about her own body. Her body and its features are things that she had ignored her entire life, so here, she is becoming more of a person, something that the narrator alludes that she is not. Later in her life, Macabéa decides to go to the doctor after eating too much chocolate and being in pain. Here again, there is an explosion (57). Not wanting to be a burden or presumptuous, she had never gone to the doctor before. Although she does not grow much here as it is told to us that she does not get her prescription, she is still taking steps to become someone larger than an obedient pure girl whose convictions even she does not understand. Finally, arguably the most important explosion, is when: “Macabéa’s eyes were opened wide as if by a sudden voracity for the future” (67). This is one of the largest points that the narrator attempts to make. Before, he was adamant that she had no future because poor, sad girls with no realization of who they are did not have futures nor did they think of futures. This, then, is the biggest change and realization that Macabéa has: her acknowledgement and hope that she has a future.

The explosions, then, are an explicit manner of telling the reader that something is changing, both in the repetitious actions and in Macabéa’s personality. Rather than readers assuming and debating points of change in Macabéa, the author lays it out neatly.

Rio’s State University UERJ Suspends Classes Indefinitely

Before the fall semester, Brazil’s UERJ closed classes indefinitely due to a lack of funding to the college. UERJ is Rio de Janeiro’s state school, like Ohio’s Ohio State University. The school had approximately 25,000 students and had 30 undergraduate programs as well as 40 graduate programs (“Rio”). Previously one of the top universities in Rio de Janeiro, the college has been falling behind in recent years. This past year, registration for entrance exams were the lowest that they had been in eighteen years: below half of the previous year’s, 80,000 students (Alves).

The lack of funding affected not only the ability to open classes due to campus safety, but also due to the inability to pay professors, many of whom had worked the previous semester without pay in order to help their students finish classes for that school year. Third-party food service vendors were also unwilling to bid for the university’s restaurant contracts as they worried that they may not get paid for their service (Alves).


A related article discussed Rio de Janeiro’s and the country’s current economic crisis which plays a big part in state education, especially as the Senate voted last January to heavily curb the country’s spending for the next twenty years (Forte). However, the end of the education article stated the university leaders’ optimism for the reopening of the school very soon, which I believe reflects an optimism that we have discussed quite often in class (Alves).

The article is short but discusses the problems that the university had been facing. Portrayal of Brazilians is as portrayal of Americans are in America: neutral bias. With this, I mean that the protests and school closings have all of the information, but with a slight bias, specifically in the financial crisis article. However, the articles both had optimism of Brazil’s future. The targeted audience is Brazilians which makes it difficult for outsiders to understand the problems. However, the author cites other Rio Times articles in order to allow foreign readers to quickly find related articles.

Although this does not have much to do with our discussions of art and history that we have been discussing thus far, my research and interest in this class is education. Education is very telling for how a country is doing at that period. This state university’s failings, I believe, is indicative of larger problems in the country, and I believe that the optimism that they feel is indicative of the country as well. Throughout our readings, we have read about hope and this idealistic view that elite Brazilians have. While often it is not helpful for solving problems, it is very important to remain hopeful towards our children and their education.


Works Cited

Alves, Lise. “Rio’s State University UERJ Suspends Classes Indefinitely Due to Funding.” The Rio       Times, The Rio Times, 2 Aug. 2017,   politics/financially-troubled-rios-uerj-suspends-classes-indefinitely/.

Forte, Jay. “Brazil Finance Minister Announces Recovery Agreement for Rio de Janeiro.” The Rio     Times, The Rio Times, 12 Jan. 2017,   minister-announces-recover-plan-for-rio-de-janeiro/.

“Rio de Janeiro State University.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia     Foundation,

Wikipedia Article Rewrite: Education in Brazil

For my Wikipedia article, I want to improve on the Education in Brazil article. Currently, the article covers the basic information: a brief history, current school structure, and a few sentences on international education. For such a broad topic, there should be much more information on the article. Education is a very important concept for understanding a nation’s culture. By understanding education, one can understand class and citizenship differences. Education is also important to LGBTQ and women’s issues.

Specifically, I want to expand the history section and add a section discussing prevalent issues in Brazilian education. In the U.S., full citizenship was only given to those who were educated. Adding the history of education will also highlight the history of citizenship. Also, as we discussed in class, Jesuits often used education to covert indigenous peoples to Catholicism. Adding this will highlight corruption in education. It is also important to add issues with education because of what issues in education often highlights: inequality and corruption in government. It also shows what common problems are occurring in greater society today. In the talk page, someone posted a few years ago that Brazil was a “sh*thole country” who had many problems with their “‘public education system’”. It is very important to remove what they said from readers’ minds and input correct information.

I can use the seven constitutions of Brazil to learn a history of voting rights, with emphasis on the latest—1988. I will also use information that we have learned in class to find basic information and find further readings, especially with the Jesuit schools information. The article itself has many references which I can draw more information from, and from the resources that I have obtained from my research project on education, I can learn more about Brazilian educational issues and how leaders have attempted to acknowledge or repair them.

Class Notes 2/13

Brazilian History & Culture Post

Tommy gave a discussion on deforestation in Brazil. Brazil stated last fall that the country would plant 73 million trees in the Amazon, the largest replanting in history. This goes along with Brazil’s agreement to replace 12 million hectares of trees, which is roughly the size of Pennsylvania. This promise will prove costly, however. It is very expensive to move and plant 73 million trees. Therefore, the country will use Muvuca, the collecting of seeds from already present trees and planting them elsewhere.

The country had resorted to deforestation in the past to open up lands for agriculture and farm work: soybeans, beef, etc. In 2010, the government forbade the practice of burning trees, but this was easily worked around by farmers and not heavily enforced. The country still removes roughly 25 million trees annually. However, environmental activism is becoming stronger in Brazil, leading to the country’s promise. The completion of this promise will decrease carbon emissions by 37%.


For the past several nights, Brazil has been celebrating Carnaval. Most residents of Brazil will be honoring Lent for the next 40 days (as February 14 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent), and therefore, for the past several decades, has celebrated Carnaval, a weeklong celebration of Brazilian culture, the week before. In some cases, local governments shut down for the week of the celebrations.

Each celebration, each country, is different from the other. In class, we focused on Rio’s parades as they are more strictly dictated by the government. Parades here are usually ran through favelas and each has a different theme. We watched parades from Tuiuti and Salgueiro. In Tuiuti, the theme was a celebration of 130 years since the Golden Law that we learned about last week. More specifically, the parade was to discuss whether slavery truly ended with the Golden Law. Each parade has a samba enredo written for it; the song is then distributed before so that the attendees can sing along. For Tuiuti, the song was titled: “My God, my God, is slavery extinct?”, showing more clearly the parade’s theme. The parade is led by abre alas which is used by dancers who do a choreographed piece on the parade’s theme. The abrialis is followed by huge floats and thousands of dancers dressed to fit the theme.

Parades in Rio are also judged. Each parade must fit into a certain time period, with enough dancers in the parade. Songs, costumes, and movements are all also judged. The top two parades of the entrance competition are then moved up and televised the next year; the bottom two of the main competition are moved down the next year as well.

After we finished watching the parades, a question was asked about the evident blackface worn by different groups in the parade. At the time, there were only two articles with a small mention of opposition to the practice, both using the same tweet as evidence. Therefore, several theories of the practice were discussed in class: colourism is becoming an issue that is discussed more often, and blackface may have been a way to bring that issue to light; along with that, the parades are televised by Globo, an extremely popular channel in Brazil, who often remove darker-skinned peoples, and therefore, the use may have been a protest against the channel; and finally, similarity of the group is an important aspect of the judging, which means that blackface was the best way to ensure that homogeny.

Race Relations

After finishing our discussion on Brazilian deforestation and Carnaval, we moved onto the Telles article about race and race theory. We broke into small groups to discuss the questions: How do contemporary scholars think about race and what it means? How is race defined? How are ideas about race are different in Brazil vs. U.S. and how do they change throughout time?

How do contemporary scholars think about race and what it means?

Dr. Holt read a quote from the American Anthropological Association: “race: a recent idea created by western Europeans following exploration across the world to account for differences among people and justify colonization, conquest, enslavement, and social hierarchy among humans. The term is used to refer to groupings of people according to common origin or background and associated with perceived biological markers. Among humans there are no races except the human race. In biology, the term has limited use, usually associated with organisms or populations that are able to interbreed. Ideas about race are culturally and socially transmitted and form the basis of racism, racial classification and often complex racial identities.” This fit into our discussion that we had been having about race being a social construct. A difference in skin color means absolutely nothing. However, society has placed a meaning onto it through laws and treatments of people with “other” skin tones. In this context, the “other” is any non-white skin tone. Race is arbitrarily placed and historically constructed. Because, historically, white people had more manpower, more violent technology, and a sense of group pride and superiority, they were able to oppress other racial categories.

How is race defined?

Race is defined differently in different societies. In the U.S., genotype determines a person’s race. Here, the “one-drop” theory exists: if one person in your immediate ancestry is black, you are then black. However, in Brazil, your phenotype determines your race. This means that there are significantly more races in Brazil. Darker-skinned persons are negro, but lighter-skinned brown persons are pardo, or even can be blanco.

How are ideas about race are different in Brazil vs. U.S. and how do they change throughout time?

Both the U.S. and Brazil believed in a pseudoscientific idea of race; that the white race was somehow scientifically superior; however, the two countries had vastly different ideas on how to apply this theory to society. In the U.S., segregation—Jim Crowe laws—was legalized in order to keep the races separate and to keep black people from gaining power. Although segregation is no longer legalized, separation of the races is still prevalent through the class system. Lynching, while not legal, was practiced throughout the nation and was barely ever prosecuted. This was very different from Brazil, where nothing was legalized to separate the races from interacting. Elite Brazilians believed in the exact opposite of separation; there existed the theory of “whitening”, meaning that the “mixing” of races—interracial relations—would lead to a whiter population because white genes would win out over lesser, or nonwhite, genes. Because of this ideal, people in Brazil believed that they were more modern or progressive than the U.S. However, Brazil also practiced social “exclusion” which was in reality, nonlegal segregation.

These divulsions from a common practice may have been caused by several elements. First, abolition was a national consensus in Brazil. After the passing of the Golden Law, people celebrated. People had also begun to realize that slavery would be done soon, meaning that they prepared. However, in the States, there was a war over abolition. American citizens were not in any way prepared for emancipation. Secondly, because of the condemnation of interracial relations between white and black people, it made it difficult to move away from segregation. Secondly, the U.S. began as a colony whereas Brazil began as a place solely to farm. Therefore, the U.S. came with their families and Portuguese men did not. This made racial mixing easier in Brazil than U.S.

Key Words

Abre alas: The lead float in a Carnaval parade; often interactive with the dancers

Blackface: The makeup used by a nonblack performer playing a black role; used in U.S. minstrel shows; has a racist connotation as it was used to stereotype black people

Colourism: Discrimination based on skin colour of a person, not race

Favelas: Low-income towns of Brazil

Golden Law: 1888 decree by Princess Isabel declaring emancipation of all slaves

Muvuca: Collecting of seeds from trees and planting them in other areas

Samba enredo: “Samba that tells a story”; song written for a certain parade in Carnaval

Whitening: Social concept that persons could become white through raising of social class, interracial relations

Further Reading:

Beija Flor, Brazil is a Monster:

Use of Blackface in Carnaval

sex and violence in Brazil: carnaval, capoeira, and the problem of everyday life

Examination Questions

  • What exactly does it mean to be Brazilian? In a multiracial society?
  • How does literature perpetuate pseudoscientific fact? eg. Heart of Darkness, True History
  • If race is a social construct, why can we not get rid of racism by simply acknowledging that fact?

Research Project Blog Post

Education is extremely important to me as a future teacher; it creates opportunities but can also be easily manipulated to ruin lives. Educational policy plays a large role in national identity, culture, and society. Betsy DeVos is currently enacting her school choice initiative, saying that a person’s zip code should not determine their education. While that opens discussion over national issues like lower-income areas and the lack of education there, she is also continuing to favor elite families whose children are able to change schools and ignoring impoverished families whose children are less likely to be able to be accepted into and move to different schools, an obvious divide in U.S. national identity. Education also plays into the U.S.’s history: education determined who was a citizen and therefore who could vote and run in elections; slaves were not allowed to be educated for fear that they would realize their rights and revolt, and educated slaves often wrote novels depicting their lives, hoping to appeal to white abolitionists and the greater United States’ population. Therefore, my question is this: when have people earned the right to be educated, how are they educated, and how does this play into the culture and society of Brazil?

My research will then delve into two sections: history and culture. My history section will deal with Brazil only. Here, I am to research what education was like when the recognized country—before the Empire—began to form. In class, we have used the Constitution to look at race relations. I would like to use a full translation of the Constitution to look at laws and amendments to learn who had the vote and who could run as a candidate and if education had a role in those persons’ lives. I would again like to use this to learn who was a citizen.

My cultural aspect of research will investigate how the people of Brazil understand their own education. For this, I would like to do a comparative analysis. In the U.S., there is a competitiveness to our education: the government becomes outraged when what we believe to be a “lesser” country does better than us in testing. I think that learning how the government of Brazil and Brazilian citizens perceive education compared to other nations will allude to their feeling of national pride and identity. Education is a huge divide amongst class systems in the United States. Comparing this to Brazil will show how education can help or harm this system and show that this issue is not just the U.S.’s, but the world’s.

For primary sources, I intend to use famous educational leaders’ work—like Paulo Freire—to see how they have affected education in Brazil. Again, I will use the Brazilian Constitution to glean information about citizenship and voting rights. This will help my historical analysis of Brazilian educational policy. I will also use information from the Ministry of Education’s website and webpages of several educational groups in Brazil; for example, the Science without Borders program. For secondary sources, I intend to use analyses of Brazilian educational programs, like those done by Javier Luque, David Evans, and Barbara Bruns. Utopian Pedagogies and Cold War Politics of Literacy will also enlighten readers about how policies of the past have worked. These will help my cultural comparisons in the second element of the project.


Utopian Pedagogy, edited by Richard J. F. Day, Mark Coté, Greig de Peuter

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire and the Cold War Politics of Literacy by Paulo Freire

The Science Without Borders program:

A Decade of Research on School Principals:

Ministry of Education:

Achieving World Class Education in Brazil:

“Indigenous Peoples in Brazil”: A Wikipedia Article Critique

There are several issues with the “Indigenous Peoples in Brazil” article in Wikipedia, beginning with the finer points and ending with the overall inclusion in the article. 

The finer points of the article, citations, punctuation, and the like, were some of the first noticeable issues in the article. First, starting with the lead itself, there is a general lack of citations in the article. There are entire sections in the article that do not have any citations, a clear violation of Wikipedia’s plagiarism code. In the “Origins” section, the author states: “To investigate this further, we applied…”, which shows that the author either took direct quotes from their references without changing the words or that they are using their own research, both of which are not allowed on Wikipedia. Second, the general punctuation of the article needs improved as well. There are several commas and quotation marks missing. Though I am not sure of the author’s origins, I believe that the article has been up long enough and has had enough commenters to have had this issue fixed earlier. Finally, on a good note, the references that were added did work, and I believe that all that was discussed in article had a cause to be there. 

Though the article gives a chronological history of Amerindians in Brazil, it does not give a complete history, showing a biased view. First, it gives a very European account of their history. It discusses the Portuguese takeover and destruction of Amerindians but does not show any Amerindian accounts. Secondly, it includes Portuguese activists that helped Indigenous cultures, yet does not discuss any important tribal leaders or activists. I find it very difficult to believe that there have been none or at least none discussed in popular culture. Finally, it gives little detail about the daily lives of indigenous cultures, now or in the past other than discussing whether they were hunter-gathers or agriculturalists. This article deals mainly with a European view of Amerindian culture. 

This article is a part of two very important WikiProjects: Indigenous Peoples of America and Brazil. It has received a C-Class rating on both, a High Importance rating by Indigenous Peoples of America and a Top Importance rating by Brazil. This article is obviously of great importance to Wikipedia. However, through looking through the talk page, there is a common theme of ignorant language and ignoring important information. First, while this is not as severe as another language issue, the original title of the article was “Indigenous People of Brazil”, making the tribes seem as one group and belonging to Brazil. This issue was remedied but shows that from the beginning, there has been trouble using correct language. Secondly, a line in the article stated that indigenous peoples could not learn to assimilate to Brazilian culture. After several comments against this line, the issue was fixed, again showing that ignorant language is used in an important project. Lastly, there is information missing in the article. A comment from 2011 asked about whether indigenous peoples were considered citizens and about their voting rights. This has still yet to be addressed, and this comment was made seven years ago. Though an important project, it has seemingly fallen by the wayside. 

From the basic components to the actual content, there are several issues with this article that must be addressed to be a good reference for those wishing to find information on the indigenous peoples of Brazil.