Author Archives: Thomas Peterson

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.

IS Symposium

Today during IS Symposium I enjoyed presentations from Diana Bickmore and Nancy Grazon on their IS Posters, which were both terrific!  It was clear that both of them were passionate about their topics and had put much work into their IS’s.

Diana’s IS, titled “More Coffee Please?: The Present and Future of the Coffee Industry in Columbia and Honduras in Light of Oppressive Climate Change”, emphasized the issue of the struggling coffee industry in Columbia and Honduras due to Climate change.  She talked about how because coffee beans are such a large part of Columbia’s economy that it is a very serious issue for the country.

Nancy’s IS was titled “The Opportunity to Succeed: An Analysis of First-Generation, Latin College Students Aspirations, Family Expectations, and definitions of Success”.  Though her topic didn’t involve people currently living in Latin America, it did include immigrants from Latin America and their cultural struggles in America.  It mainly focused on the benefits and struggles of first-generation Latin America college student due to pressure applied by themselves and their families.


Wasteland Discussion Questions

Why is the Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho so largely unknown in Brazil?

– At the beginning of the documentary, it explains why the pickers and the work they do are so unknown by the rest of Brazil through the words of the pickers themselves.  They explain how the people of Brazil don’t understand the importance of recycling, and how they believe it isn’t worth their time.  Additionally, the people of the association tend to be outcasts of society, to the rest of Brazil places the Pickers below them.  It is rather interesting that by being outcasts and working with the trash of Brazilians in nearby cities, no matter their social class, they have almost created their own social class below all others.  For this reason, the people of Brazil are unaware of the Pickers or don’t want to be.

Did the production of the Wasteland documentary positively affect the lives of the Pickers?

– It is hard to tell from an American perspective if the documentary actually changed the lives of the pickers like Muniz intended to do.  Personally, I had never heard of the Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho, and that is rather significant with all the environmental classes I have taken.  I would think such a great effort to recycle by hand instead of by a factory would be talked about.  Though the association’s presence doesn’t seem to have been increased here in America, it is very possible that it did to the people of Brazil.  If this were the case, I think it would at least benefit the lives of the pickers by a small margin.

Class Notes

Today in Modern Brazil, we began with a discussion on modern Brazilian music, talking about many of the countries top artists and their current popular songs. Dr. Holt even ended looked up their top 50 songs on Spotify, letting the class sit back and listen to some of the great music. As a class we noticed the wide range of music within Spotify’s top 50 playlist, recognizing that this was an excellent representation of Brazil’s widespread culture. Additionally, we tied this back to last weeks theme of Brazil’s Carnival Festival, and how the song at the top of the playlist had reached that spot due to its release just prior to Carnival.

We then moved on to William’s History & Culture presentation on Brazil’s corrupt Prison/Justice system. William focused on comparing Brazil’s, and America’s prison systems drawing many similarities and differences between the two. The main similarities he mentioned were the high abundances of black prisoners and the tendency for prisons to acts as a detainment center or “criminal college” instead of a place for rehabilitation. The main difference William focused on was the presence of gangs, such as the PPC, within prison systems, and how this has led to a more violent atmosphere within Brazil’s prison walls. A riot in 1992 was used as an example of this violent behavior, where 102 Brazilian prisoners lost their lives. After William had finished, Andrew presented his Book Presentation on Making Samba: A New History of Race and Music in Brazil by Marc A. Hertzman. Andrew talked about the original foundation of Samba, which was from the Afro-Brazilian community. He continued on explaining how as Samba became more popular in Brazil it began to lose its roots due to the involvement of the white community. Samba only became a national symbol once the white community had molded it into something completely different than what it had started as was a key point within Andrew’s presentation due to how it connects to major themes of the class, such as race, and colorism. Additionally, an interesting question was brought forth on the possible connection between Samba and American Jazz music. However, a distinction was made between the two because of Samba’s inability to be nationally recognized without an influence of the white community in Brazil, and how this was not the case for Jazz. Accidentally, this made a great connection to the difference in racial issues between the two countries, because of the lack of true segregation in Brazil. Lastly, the presentation perfectly incorporated one of the assigned reading for the day, what was about an Afro-Brazilian musician named Geraldo Pereira who struggled to achieve national recognition due to the color of his skin.

After Andrew’s presentation and the conversation that followed it, the class shifted our focus to the day’s assigned readings and what historical questions they might answer. A large focus of the classes discussion involved the urban renewal of Rio De Janeiro throughout the 20th century. We compared the re-building of the city to France’s urban renewal, and how afterward the city looked as though it should be in Europe. Additionally, we spoke of the cultural changes within Rio, as its populations boomed due to the influx of rural Brazilians, and European and Japanese immigrants. I thought this was similar to the great migration of the black community from the south to northern cities in America in the middle of the 20th Century. Both events caused for the mixing of cultures, resulting in violence, and poor working conditions. Although, we also touched on the good things that came about from Rio’s urban renewal, such as financial opportunity and increase hygiene.   Because of this the reading on The Vaccine Riots From Brazil: Five Centuries of Change was a hot topic because of how it provided the class with just how hygiene became an issue within the city due to the citizen’s negative thoughts on vaccination, which resulted in a violent revolt. The text also provides great insight into just how much Rio’s population spiked. Additionally, the excerpt on Geraldo Pereira from Human Tradition in Modern Brazil gave the class a great perspective on the changes that occurred in Rio de Janeiro from the personal view of Pereira. It was also a great reminder of why biographies are fantastic sources due to their ability to provide the reader with a story, personal motivations, and historical context.

What Cultural changes did Rio de Janeiro experience in the 20th Century, and why?

What other Gang’s exist within Brazil, and what are the similarities and differences between them and the PCC?

What type of information would you receive from a biography of a Rio de Janeiro citizen that you might not get from another type of text about Rio?

Key Terms:

  • Samba: A Brazilian Dance of Afro-Brazilian origin that has become one of many national symbols of Brazil.
  • PCC: The Primeiro Comando da Capital (first command of the Captial) is Brazil’s largest criminal organization or gang.  They are known for their infiltration into Brazil’s prison system with 6,000 of their 13,00 members behind bars.
  • Urban Renewal: The redevelopment of areas within a large city in an attempt to modernize, typically involving the clearance of slums.

Check out Rio’s Geography on Google Earth (only works in Google Chrome),-43.22919069,16.863676a,8022.0764203d,35y,154.9154265h,59.93206572t,-0r


Go listen to some of his great music!

Potential Wikipedia article on the Bumba-meu-boi festival

For my potential Wikipedia article to improve upon, I propose the page on the Bumba-meu-boi festival. As of now the article only includes a lightly detailed lead. The current lead attempts to summarize the story behind the festival in a sentence or two with a short explanation of the most important characters played. This, in of itself is a gap in the festivals Wiki page. I look to add more details behind the story behind the festival as well as all of its characters and what they symbolize. Other gaps in the article I intend to improve upon are the history of the festival, where it occurs, how long it lasts, and its deep connection to Brazilian culture.

I Think I can do Wikipedia a great service by vastly improving this article because Bumba-meu-boi is one of Brazil’s largest celebrations, yet it isn’t covered nearly as well as Brazil’s main festival, Carnival because it isn’t publicized as much. The festival is also deeply rooted in the nation’s many cultures including that of native tribes. Additionally, the festival is an old tradition that dates back to the late 1800’s, from which it has slowly grown from a single small town to the whole country.

Because the festival is not as well known outside of Brazil there are not large amounts of translated literature on it, like you would find on the Carnival festival. However, there is still an ample abundance of studies on it which will provide me with everything I need. One great source titled The Coexistence of Folk and Popular Culture as Vehicles of Social and Historical Activism: Transformation of the Bumba-meu-boi in Northeast Brazil identifies the complex hybrid cultures within the festival. There are also plenty of books including An Interdisciplinary Study of The Ox and the Slave (Bumba-meu-Boi)A Satirical Music Drama in BrazilI.


Research Project on Brazil’s lack of Environmental Control

My research project will be a study of the lack of environmental control in the present and past within Brazil. I intend to continue on from my History & Culture blog post on deforestation and will bring the building of dams and their harm to river systems into the picture as well. The environmental degradation I find caused by deforestation and dams will be a large portion of my evidence for the lack of environmental control. Additionally, I plan on looking into Brazil’s environmental policies of the past and present to see if any changes have been made.

I want to dig deeper into deforestation than my History & Culture blog post did. I don’t think I was able to get a good idea of how much of the Amazon is missing today in 2018. Rather, I was only able to find the damage ten years ago, and I believe it will be a lot worse now. Additionally, I want to know which industry has caused the most damage to the forest, and why they needed the extra land. Furthermore, I will find evidence of the biological damage in the Amazon that deforestation has caused. Lastly, I want to see what restoration efforts are being made for the forest other than the proposal of planting 73 million trees, which I talked about in my previous post.

Also, I will study Dams because in theory they are a great renewable source of energy through hydraulic power, and have become very popular in most countries throughout the world, including Brazil. However, they act as a barrier between different sections of the river which causes major environmental issues. I intend to find out how many dams have been built on Brazil’s major rivers, and what damage they have caused to them. I indent on finding evidence of biological damage in the river brought forth from the dams.

For the final section of my research project, I will look into the environmental policies of the past in Brazil to see how so much environmental damage was allowed. I will identify the loop-holes Brazilian industry found in these policies. I also think the direct connection between the rate of deforestation and Brazil’s economic status is very significant. This will most likely become a large part of my project as well. Lastly, I will observe Brazil’s current environmental policies to see what changes they have made and if they have been effective.

I believe the lack of environmental control in Brazil is important to the countries history because it is representative of the high abundance corruption that takes place in Brazil, as well as the overall lack of control Brazil’s citizens have on their leaders.


Fearnside, Philip M. “Soybean Cultivation as a Threat to the Environment in Brazil.” Environmental Conservation, vol. 28, no. 1, 2001, pp. 23–38., doi:10.1017/S0376892901000030.

Butt, N., P. A. de Oliveira, and M. H. Costa (2011), Evidence that deforestation affects the onset of the rainy season in Rondonia, Brazil, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D11120, doi:10.1029/2010JD015174.

Agostinho, A. A., et al. “Dams and the Fish Fauna of the Neotropical Region: Impacts and Management Related to Diversity and Fisheries.” Brazilian Journal of Biology, vol. 68, no. 4, Nov. 2008, pp. 1119–32. SciELO, doi:10.1590/S1519-69842008000500019.

Fearnside, Philip M. “Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: History, Rates, and Consequences.” Conservation Biology, vol. 19, no. 3, June 2005, pp. 680–88. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00697.x.

Fearnside, Philip M. “Soybean Cultivation as a Threat to the Environment in Brazil.” Environmental Conservation, vol. 28, no. 1, Mar. 2001, pp. 23–38. Cambridge Core, doi:10.1017/S0376892901000030.

Romig, Bradley S. “Agriculture in Brazil and Its Effect on Deforestation and the Landless Movement: A Government’s Attempt to Balance Agricultural Success and Social Collateral Damage Note.” Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, vol. 11, 2006, pp. 81–106.

Arima, Eugenio Y., et al. “Public Policies Can Reduce Tropical Deforestation: Lessons and Challenges from Brazil.” Land Use Policy, vol. 41, Nov. 2014, pp. 465–73. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2014.06.026.

Brazilian History & Culture : Brazil’s New Reforestation Efforts

Brazil Begins Effort to Plant 73 Million Trees in the Amazon
written by Jason Daley for the Smithsonian


In order to support their weak economy, Brazil began cutting down trees from the Amazon Rain Forest in the 1970’s to provide land for cattle and Agriculture. Though this may have increased Brazil’s export of beef, soybeans, and coffee it also resulted in major Environmental concerns such as losses in Biodiversity, and increases in Carbon emission (Fearnside).

However, recently new efforts have been proposed to help protect the Amazon, and allow it to expand to it previous extents. Last Fall Brazil announced a plan which included the planting of 73 million trees in the Amazon, which is the most extensive tropical replantation effort in history (Daley). The main issue at hand when formulating this plan was the amount of money it would cost to buy, and plant so many trees. The solution is a new technique called Muvuca, which involves the collection of seeds from native trees and depositing them in dense networks (Daley). Although the use of Muvuca is completely experimental the vice president of Conservation International’s Brazil program, Rodrigo Medeiros, states, “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare. With Muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 trees per hectare”(Daley). This Proposes Muvuca as a very effective technique; however, those 2,500 trees are in reality just seeds with the potential to become trees. This is where the risk lies, within the Muvuca technique. Additionally, resulting from objectives of the Paris Accord Brazil has announced its efforts to restore 12 million hectares of the Amazon. Due to its position as the initial step of Brazil’s massive proposal, much importance has been placed on the Muvuca experiment.

Studies have shown Second-Growth Forests (younger than 60 years) to have remarkable abilities to consume vast abundances of Carbon. With Brazil as one of the planet’s leaders in deforestation, a successful implementation of their recent proposal could drop global carbon emission’s significantly. The discontinuing of deforestation alone could decrease carbon emissions by up to 37%, with even larger decreases with the regrowth of forests (Daley). Unfortunately, results such as this are unlikely because Brazil hasn’t taken enough action in stopping deforestation with 25 million acres of deforestation occurring annually.

Time-lapse of deforestation in Brazil

The proposal has resulted in a lot of hype within environmental media that is, for the most part, encouraging in this Article. Muvuca is proposed as a cheaper and more effective technique than the conventional replanting of previously grown saplings. The article displays this by not only providing Muvuca’s promising potential from credible sources but also exposes some of the weaknesses of conventional replanting. One way Daley did this was by explaining how not all previously grown saplings survive the process of being replanted. The only negative response to Brazil’s conservation efforts was the experimental design of the usage of Muvuca, and the nature of experiments to have uncertain results.

It appears as though a political battle is waging in Brazil between its President, Michel Temer and Conservational organizations such as the Brazilian Ministry of Environment. President Temer has found economic success by building dams and increasing the nations mining efforts, but at what cost (Staff). The land in which mining and dam construction are occurring used to be part of the Amazon Rain Forest. Additionally, last August Temer issued a decree to dissolve a 4.6 million hectare national reserve for mining. Fortunately, the decree was so unpopular throughout the country that it was revoked.


Work Cited


Daley, Jason. “Brazil Begins Effort to Plant 73 Million Trees in the Amazon.” Smithsonian, Accessed 13 Feb. 2018.

Fearnside, Philip M. “Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: History, Rates, and Consequences.” Conservation Biology, vol. 19, no. 3, June 2005, pp. 680–88. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00697.x.

Marguerita, Choy. “Brazil Opens Vast National Reserve to Mining.” Reuters, 23 Aug. 2017. Reuters,