The Orfalea Center and UERJ Launch a Pioneering New Global Studies Center in Brazil with Intensive Field-Building Course in Rio de Janeiro
The Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies (of the University of California, Santa Barbara) and the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) with generous support of the Fulbright Commission and the Paul Orfalea Endowment were proud to launch, in June 2023, a new Center for Global Studies at UERJ – the first of its kind in Brazil.
In his keynote talk that officially inaugurated the new Global Studies Center, Professor. Paul Amar (Director of UCSB’s Orfalea Center and Fulbright Visiting Professor at UERJ) situated Brazil, and Rio specifically, as focal points for the emergence of a new version of Global Studies, that draws upon deep histories of contention and reimagination. In his remarks, he traced the extended pre-history of the field of Global Studies, resituating a new vision of the field that would originate in the struggles within and against colonial globalization in the 15th and 16th centuries. During this period, global scale critiques and alternatives were elaborated by transcontinental solidarity between leaders of uprisings against plantation slavery, dissidents against Inquisitional religious, sexual, or racial persecution, and Indigenous peoples resisting removal. The intersections of such global resistances centered Brazil and the South Atlantic.
Amar also reminded us that, much more recently, jumping to the 1990s, Rio de Janeiro hosted the first of a set of major, historically significant United Nations summits – Eco-Rio, or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. It brought together Indigenous activists from across Brazil and around the world and united environmental and ecology activists to together identify the planetary priority and emergency of what would come to be called climate change, mass extinction, and the interlinked crises of Indigenous genocide and biome destruction. Here, the “global” and the identification of civil society and local communities as the protagonists of the global became established as a unit of history and of large-scale solidarity and governance. Pointing to other historical examples over the previous two decades, Amar demonstrated that Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro, were in fact origin points for this new historical arc of “global” ordering that centered global civil society. This site thus has “every condition and a thriving set of academic and citizen communities that are perfect for the support of this kind of interdisciplinary, publicly engaged field of study.”
Echoing Amar’s opening remarks, Prof. Maria Celi Scalon, professor of Sociology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the co-project leader with Paul Amar in creating this initiative, identified the ways Global Studies – the interdisciplinary field and the new Center at UERJ – can invigorate the social sciences in Brazil which she described as historically looking inward. She also talked about the importance of dialogue, both between peoples and countries or regions. She continued, “Social sciences in Brazil need to develop an international dialogue project; Global Studies is to understand phenomena, considering the interaction that exists between regions and countries. It is not a possibility, it is a need, a need to build dialogue. We think a lot about social inequality in Brazil, social issues in Brazil, but we need to start thinking globally about how these phenomena in Brazil are connected outside.” The Global Studies Center’s founding by UERJ and the UCSB Orfalea Center enjoyed the support and co-sponsorship of the Fulbright Commission of Brazil, thanks to their support for the Fulbright project of Profs. Amar and Scalon which laid the foundation for the Center at UERJ.
Dr. Luiz Loureiro, Director of the Fulbright Commission in Brazil, and Professor at the University of São Paulo, during the opening panel stressed the need for adopting methodologies that embrace the global scale, stating “at the end of the last century we were thinking about globalization in terms of its repercussions, but that it is now clear that dealing with problems globally is the only path to long lasting solutions. Either we study things globally or we will be irrelevant.” This sentiment was reinforced by Prof. Ronaldo Oliveira de Castro, director of the Institute of Social Sciences at UERJ, who insisted that issues that we perceive as local are simply not only local. He mentioned how right-wing authoritarianism is steadily pervading the world, and through global thinking, we can shed light on issues that we see as being only local, or even to show the reasons for an issue’s local activity.
Field-Building Course Trains First Cohort of Global Studies in Brazil
Between June 26th – 30th 2023, simultaneous with the launch of new Center, the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies in collaboration with the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), conducted a week-long intensive field-building and cohort forming course of study, entitled “Global Studies in Brazil: For a New Interdisciplinary Field – Global South Perspectives and the Public-Facing University.”
This kind of intensive course is referred to as a “minicurso” in Brazil. The main goal of this course was to bring together undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to articulate the field of Global Studies in Brazil, drawing upon Brazilian contributions to this area as well as the most creative and innovative global-south facing and activist-engaged international perspectives. With eleven panels spanning five days and 200 undergraduate students applying, the “minicurso” initiative was a complete success. Professors who lead the minicurso included faculty from social sciences, history, media studies, and international relations, from UERJ, UFF, UFRJ as well as from the United States. The talks, lectures, and discussions of the minicurso were conducted in Portuguese or English, with simultaneous translation to English provided.
Participants who completed all five days of the minicurso were awarded a Certificate of Participation jointly issued by UERJ’s Institute of Social Sciences and UCSB’s Orfalea Center and are now considered the first cohort of Global Studies specialists formed in Brazil. These perspectives were shared by our speakers and reflected in the intentions they had for the minicurso. Fernando Brancoli, professor of International Relations at UFRJ, stated that the conventional International Relations field is “outdated when it comes to discussions on epistemology and methodology.” In contrast he said that, in reference to the minicurso initiative, “the Global Studies field methodology we will undertake today will be horizontal and hierarchy diminished, with an equal emphasis on undergraduate students and activists leading discussions.” The conference itself was an example of words to action, as Fernando announced “We have colleagues from all over the world [here], this is a representation of what we are trying to accomplish here.” Manaira Athayde, Executive Director of the Orfalea Center at UC Santa Barbara and lead organizer of this conference further illustrated this point. She stated that the idea behind this initiative was to “have a collective experience and debate in which we can all participate.” While speaking she made known her dislike of the dynamic of speaking from a podium to an audience. It was, in her words “Hierarchical and not at all a horizontal engagement.”
Goals of the Intensive Course
The three aims of this minicurso were: 1) to articulate in Brazil the field of Global Studies and launch a Center for Global Studies at UERJ Institute for Social Sciences, drawing upon Brazilian contributions to this area as well as the most creative and innovative international perspectives; 2) to train participants in the principal interdisciplinary research lines, educational philosophies, and public contributions of Global Studies; 3) to plan, together, for the launching of a unique mission for the field of Global Studies in Brazil and to design undergraduate and graduate programs in Global Studies in Brazil. The longer-term objective is to shape Global Studies in Brazil as an intersectional space for teaching, research, publication, media, community partnerships, and public transformation, that brings together citizen empowerment and educational innovation, creates transnational public solidarities and global scale research capacities, and stimulates global consciousness and relevance for Brazil’s future generations.
In preparation for the launching of this Center and the co-hosting of this minicurso, the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Institute for Philosophy and Social Sciences (UFRJ/IFCS) and UC Santa Barbara Orfalea Center co-conducted a survey to explore variations in student experiences in Brazil. The team that led and developed the survey, and implemented the survey dissemination and qualitative interviews were Prof. Maria Celi Scalon (UFRJ, UERJ), Dr. Manaira Athayde (UCSB), Travis Candieas (UCSB) and David Pohl (UFRJ). This team developed the detailed questionnaire and then surveyed undergraduate students from nine institutions, employing a culturally responsive approach. Collaborating with stakeholders in Brazil’s public university system, researchers developed and translated the survey to assess the extent to which students encounter public and social policy issues. The survey inquired about students’ experiences with globally-connected social policy and human rights issues in their daily lives, encompassing topics like inequality, the environment, health, and policing. Additionally, it assessed experiences of racism, gender inequality, and labor rights issues. The survey also identified students’ interests in global regions, languages, and social policy and human rights issues they wished to learn more about. Some of what was learned was that students participating mostly came from the southeast region, and that between public, private and federal institutions, most students identified as female, with a sizable minority of students from state universities identifying as non-binary/third-gender. We learned that a large majority of students come from federal universities and were between the ages of 21-25. When asked about their frequency of experience with human rights issues, the majority of students from all three types of institutions said “daily,” with the lowest even being 48%of federal university students claiming daily exposure. This is more or less similar when looking at social issues. Finally, when asked about their interest in studying globally connected issues, the vast majority of students claimed that this described them extremely or very well. Higher education in the Global South, particularly Latin American countries such as Brazil, faces significant public and social policy challenges, leading to educational and social disparities. Research on higher education and the environment has previously compared institutions in the global north and south, providing important criteria for assessment. However, this comparison often focuses on economic and political contexts, overlooking individual student experiences. Economic and political factors impact academic outcomes and inform global public and social policies for higher education, affecting both institutions and individuals but often neglecting students’ experiences. Recognizing the diverse needs of students attending these institutions within the context of public and social policies can enhance institutional quality and support the implementation of global pedagogies.
Student Engagement in the Re-Founding of Global Studies in Brazil
A main component of this intensive “minicurso” was to familiarize young activist undergraduate and graduate students in Brazil about the field of Global Studies and to give them a chance to shape the development of the new field as it emerges in their country. The new Global Studies Center and minisourso at UERJ were established in service of these students, and they lead discussions after each panel throughout the week growing in their role as co-producers of knowledge and as the future leaders of the Global Studies interdisciplinary field in Brazil.
Over the week the students engaged in long group discussions after the panels, led by graduate students. These undergraduate discussions happened in between panels and easily lasted over an hour and students showed no signs of wanting to stop. Graduate student leaders produced briefings of the discussions sections, and it was clear that these undergraduates were very eager to engage with each other over the issues. These were deep discussions where students discussed areas of interest that they would have liked to discuss even further. For example, according to one graduate student’s report, the students drew attention to the connection between environmental issues and women’s experiences. They specifically mentioned the intersection of gender and the environment, as well as the concept of environmental racism.
The Panels and Modules of the Week-Long “Minicurso”
The first panel, the opening ceremonial, was co-led by professor Paul Amar, director of the Orfalea Center at UCSB and visiting Fullbright Professor, Prof. Maria Celi Scalon, Professor of Sociology at UERJ, Prof. Ronaldo de Castro, Director of the Institute of Social Sciences at UERJ,and Luiz Loureiro, Director of the Fulbright Commission in Brazil, and Prof. at University of São Paulo. Organizing an international minicurso with the aim of establishing a Center, Professor Paul Amar discussed what makes Global Studies so unique. Amar stated that we live in an era of “methodological nationalism” where the unit of analysis or the frame of reference is assumed to be the nation or the nation-state. However, this “methodological nationalism” is often inadequate for capturing the scale of the most urgent questions we ask ourselves about topics such as ecology or climate change, culture, religion, and identity. These questions are both global in scale, but also cannot be researched or addressed without full participation of local communities and without innovation in collaborative methods and public-facing structures of pedagogy and production of knowledge.
The field of Global Studies, said Amar “is a means for movements, for the engagement in social issues and cultural struggles.” Amar, asked “Is this the correct time to launch Global Studies in Brazil, or in Brazil at all, in the context of surging nationalism with populists attacking globalists? Indeed, Not only does Amar believe this is the time to launch Global Studies in Brazil, he and his colleagues in Brazil envision a new kind of Global Studies actually emerging in Brazil as a field of study and lines of research that center Brazil and the Global South in its teaching, methodologies, epistemologies, and perspectives.” As a result, Amar says, “Brazil will generate models of openness, research rigor, interdisciplinary cooperation, and comparative/transregional social scientific investigation, and I will help to ensure these models of Brazil-originating Global Studies circulate throughout the world and remain connected to US public and academic leaders.”
Global Studies Reimagines Security Studies and Sees the Middle East from a Brazilian Angle
The first panel of the second day, Tuesday June 27th, 2023, was entitled “security studies, Middle East and Brazil Global Comparative Perspectives” featuring Professors Omar Dahi (Hampshire College, USA), Gisele Chagas (Universidade Federal Fluminense, in Rio de Janeiro), João Trajano de Lima Sento-Sé (UERJ) and Fernando Brancoli (UFRJ). The theme of their talks was, addressing key topics in contemporary Global Studies topics such as critiques of methodological nationalism and south-south engagements, global comparative study of security regimes and practices, and the transnational analysis of gender roles in Islam.
Omar started us off by talking about what it means to think of research in the Middle East from a Global Studies perspective. He offered some ways in which the interdisciplinary field of Global Studies challenges traditional approaches to Middle East research. It challenges the conventional teaching of the Middle East in courses and textbooks which tends to depict the Middle East is an exceptional place, backward, exempt, or as the enemy “other” of global processes. Omar highlights this through his work on the Beirut School of Critical Security Studies – an attempt to create alternative infrastructures of knowledge production. And he highlighted his work in the Security in Context project network taking the work of the Beirut School and engaging in South-south engagement, taking the work in a cross and trans regional direction. The SiC network emphasizes viewpoints from the Global South, providing a more profound insight into the evolving worldwide trends regarding security and insecurity. Their studies indicate that these perspectives are crucial for fostering stability, justice, and democracy globally.
Gisele’s research focuses on comparative trans-regional studies of the construction of religious identities of Muslims in Brazil and in Syria. In her talk, she focused on Islam and gender and its local dimensions and global dimensions. At the time of her research, she was interested in the decentralization of religious knowledge, who was authorized to speak on Islamic issues, and she emphasized the processes through which women speak for Islam and the Muslim community in Rio.
João talked about how the war on drugs rhetoric operates on a global scale as well as in the context of a global city like Rio de Janeiro. He noted how the war on drugs has given legitimacy to ineffective, discretionary, racist, classist and excessive use of force security policies. This rhetoric breeds contradictory aspects to approaches to public security based on the rhetoric of war. On the one hand, security issues are treated as problems internal to national states, ignoring the transnational aspects involved in the illegal arms and drug trade networks. On the other hand, this approach is articulated and legitimized in international networks, based on moral dualisms in which the different social contexts are divided between supporters of order and dangerous segments, including those who fight in defense of human rights. Sociological analyses critical of these dynamics have predominantly focused on the domestic aspects of the approaches mentioned above, noting a change is needed.
Fernando addressed the growing importance of global studies as a valuable tool for unpacking and analyzing the multifaceted challenges of the contemporary international system. Fernando highlighted the 10 year anniversary of the initially left-wing Days of June (2013) massive protests in Brazil. He mentioned previous attempts to link them to the previous Arab Spring protest wave of 2010-2014. He identified material connections between the two formations, for example, the teargas that was used by the police forces in Rio, Tunisia and other places was produced by a Brazilian company, Condor. Fernando also underlined how the presence of the Middle East in the Brazilian imaginary returned with the extreme right-wing movements around President Bolsonaro (served 2019-2022) who portrayed Israel and the far-right wing agenda of Prime Minister Netanyahu as a model and ally. Through the lens of global studies, it is possible to see not only the tactics and strategies shared, but also how these entities can be inserted into a wider network of influences and interests. Fernando shared the security connections with Israel at play over the years, such as fabricated relations between Hamas and a Rio crime group to justify the purchase of Israeli drones, or the belief of a Rio Mayor that a partition wall like that in the West Bank should be built to expel “undesired people.” Equally important was the emphasis on forms of resistance and autonomy movements. Global studies allows us to observe how groups in different geographies, including Brazil, collaborate and articulate in practices of resistance that are simultaneously local and global.
Global Religion, Identity, and Post-Coloniality Panel
The second panel of the day featured Professors. Long Bui, Vinicius Ferreira, Debanuj DasGupta,and Ph.D. student Leonardo Vieira (UFF) and focused on issues surrounding religion and post-coloniality.
Long spoke directly of the field of Global Studies itself, and gave a personal presentation telling us of his journey from childhood to professor and about his genuine appreciation for Global Studies as a field and how he personally connects with it. Through sharing the diverse topics of his academic writing, Long provided an excellent description of Global Studies. He said that Global Studies allows us to ask what we think the world should like, not just studying it as it is. Daring to dream differently, essentially, which relates to the emancipatory thinking that Paul Amar talked about when characterizing Global Studies as a field.
Vinicius illustrated the utility of a Global Studies lens, analyzing the development of academic relations between India and the United Kingdom from a long-term ethnographic perspective. After a brief historical restitution from the 18th and 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, he approached three major periods of these relations – colonial, post-colonial and contemporary – demonstrating how the transformations of the academic field are deeply linked to geopolitical dynamics represented by the diaspora.
Leonardo demonstrated how a Global Afro-Diasporic approach reveals the larger patterns and deeper histories behind Black religious identity and community organization in Brazil. He spoke about his research on the Filhos de Obá terreiro, in the Northeast region of Brazil. He studies how terreiros, places where the rituals for Candomblé and other Afro-Brazilian religions take place, develop practices of existence and resistance. Leonardo described the importance of the Filhos de Obá terreiro having been founded by a Nagô woman in the 18th century, and also about the forced diaspora that marked the history of Brazil, the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to formally abolish slavery.
Debanuj posited that we need to imagine a new kind of global– as a method, a scale and a way of life. His research is about how we find each other, and how we love and take care of one another. He reminded the audience of the power of storytelling, that our own life stories are a starting point for theorizing and that memory can be method. This was demonstrated through his telling of his life story – being undocumented, almost dying from HIV and navigating the ruthless US immigration regime led him to a career in research, all accompanied through visuals. His current project involves storytelling, drawing maps of the world with friends and comparing where they have been and where their friends are, where their hearts are – this is that new kind of global, he said. He encouraged us to not think globally in a top-down sense, but to think about our own relations, where do you, your family, your food and your culture come from.
Africa and African-Diaspora: Global Studies Lenses
Wednesday, June 28th, 2023, the third day of the inaugural Global Studies minicurso began with a panel that expanded upon the themes of Global Africa and African Studies from a Global South-originating set of lenses. The panel included Profs. Luena Nascimento, Alain Kaly, Osmundo Pinho, and Jaime Alves discussing Africa and African diasporas through global studies lenses.
Luena articulated a Global Studies methodology blending transcontinental religious studies or missionaries, with African studies. Her talk provided a rich overview of the expansion of Christianity on the African continent, which accompanied colonial expansion since the 16th century. She analyzed Christianity as a phenomenon that is both global and local, as there is a local history of African Christian anti-colonial resistance and African evangelism, something she felt is overlooked in anti-colonial discourse. Finally, she discussed issues surrounding Pentecostal neo-dogmatic Christianity expansion in recent decades, looking at Mozambique and Angola which have developed their own dynamics in relation to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a Brazilian church which is very influential in the context of Southern Africa.
Alain challenged everyone to thing very differently about global Blackness and its relationship to African identities within the continent itself. He talked about how “being Black,” that is, any person from the African continent in the Americas or in Europe who starts to be treated as Black or as African, is something that simply does not exist within Africa – you are a person. One of many interesting areas he focused on was the history of ethnic racialization of France started by Louis the Sixth and Napoleon Bonaparte, with Napoleon leading on the wholly separate racial laws.
Osmundo offered a Global Studies lens focusing on the intersection of sexuality and Blackness. He spoke on the challenges to reinvent masculinity in the Global South, and proposed some parameters for a global agenda of studies on black masculinity, taking into account racial capitalism with its intrinsic corollaries of anti-blackness; “ultramodernity” as a condition experienced subjectively by subjects through the contradictions between the promises of modern emancipation and the material concreteness of unequal social reproduction; the racialized colonial state and its possessive investment in gender regulation. He discussed the Brincadeira de Negão Project: Subjectivity and Identity of Young Black Men, developed in the Recôncavo region of Bahia, as a case study, from which he based his critical perspective.
Jaime began by quoting geographer Katherine McKittrick who asks in what way is the historical precedence of anti-Black violence in America spatially connected to our current global geographic organization. Jaime then asked us, “what is the place of Blackness in global studies,” a field of knowledge that is so white and Anglo-Saxon? What can blackness offer to an informed and ethically committed historical understanding of unveiling and fighting against geopolitical processes of racial domination? Jaime has been trying to answer these questions from what is called Black urbanity in the African diaspora.
Transnational Indigenous Futures and Global Ecology Struggles
The subsequent panel articulated global and comparative methods for highlighting Indigenous resistance and solidarity, as well as forms of transnational domination and global circulation of colonial-modern forms of control. The panel featured Professors. Margaret Cerullo, Thaddeus Blanchett, Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima, and Glicelia Tupinamba from the Tupinambá Indigenous Land of Olivença, in the south of the state of Bahia, and focused on transnational Indigenous futures and global ecology struggles.
Thaddeus referenced the more recent opening up of Brazilian academia, praising the inclusion of African, Black, European and American authors in the discourse of our students, but laments the lack of the same for indigenous movements. In the Americas in general, the indigenous issue has also been described as a national or a super local issue, he said. The benefit of looking at this from a Global Studies perspective, then, said Thaddeus is that it “gives us a more nuanced view of what has happened, more so than the myths that the nations in the Americas use to talk about their own indigenous peoples.” Thaddeus’ overall presentation looked at some lesser known history – the FDR administration’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, and his Mexican allies Moises Saenz and Manuel Gamio, and their attempts to reform indigenous administration on a hemispheric level. In particular, he focused on the efforts these actors made to recruit Brazil to this project and why they did not bear fruit. This theme of acknowledging lesser known history was present in the speeches.
Margaret began her presentation on the Zapatista Army of National Liberation referencing the birthdates of the undergrads revealed by the survey on the first day and decided to give a historical overview to the Zapatista movement for those in the audience who may have been less familiar with the group. Margaret identifies the (public) emergence of the Zapatista movement – Jan. 1 1994 as the same day that NAFTA came into effect, which was to formally bring Mexico into the “first world,” she said. This was a time of intensified capitalist expansion and domination and almost unchallenged US hegemony. “There is no alternative” was the narrative. However, the Zapatistas very literally represent that alternative, and what is powerful about them, said Margaret, is that their dream became a global dream for a life of dignity and justice.
Antonio stressed this as well at the start of his presentation, stating “I would like to say some things that may seem obvious to those who belong to indigenous movements or for those who study indigenous issues in Brazil. But I’ve learned on the course of my life that these are not obvious at all.” He talks about this newly magnified awareness of indigenous peoples in Brazil, with academics and government sectors becoming more aware of the long process of indigenous struggle, so as to not only associate indigenous peoples with the Amazon – there are indigenous peoples in all different Brazilians geographies, including our panelist Gliceria, whose people are not from the Amazon, and from whom we received the story of her people’s struggle and resistance. Antonio also discussed the history of when the Brazilian elite and the state were having trouble deciding how to manage, or otherwise exclude, Indigenous peoples in a new post-imperial state apparatus.
Glicélia used a silent video to depict her embrace with her son, aiming to shed light on her people’s struggle for land and recognition, using video as a medium to show us her people’s fight and show us another perspective to understanding how we think about things. She spoke to us about her and her people’s fight for recognition by the state, to receive “official” territorial status. She continued, talking to us about and showing us the deforestation her people and land have been subjected to, and their loss of land access. She said they needed to take action; action was the only way they would recover their land, and they did this through video documentation. Yet the judicial system rejected them on the basis of their indigeneity, so they turned to resistance. She told us about her people’s months-long fight against an attack on them by the federal police and the state army, but that they continue to recover land to this day. This account is not one the public outside of these circles would be aware of.
Global Sexualities and Gender Empowerment Panel
On the minicurso’s third day, an exciting and inclusive panel focused on global sexualities and gender empowerment, interrogating topics such as history of gender struggle, sex worker politics worldwide, the co-creation of feminist knowledge, and globally circulating theories of feminist and queer protest. This panel featured Professors. Sonia Correa, Clara Araujo, Ana Paula Da Silva, Laura Murray, Sonia Alvarez and Margaret Cerullo.
Sonia discussed the global methodologies put into operation by her organization Sexuality Policy Watch, a transnational online platform that reflects on the many expressions of sexual policies of feminism, LGBTQAI+, sexual abuse policies and much more. They look at the different scales of sexual policy, using it as a point from which to observe social and global conflicts. Acknowledging their time stamp, she stated “As Amar said, we are the fruit of the global era that arose in the 90s.” She, however, proceeded to provide great importance to what has come before, stressing a long history of female transnational struggles against slavery, servitude, capitalism, and struggles for free sexual expression.
Broadly speaking, Clara presented a perspective focused on understanding gender as a gender order that has to do with hierarchy, looking at the inequalities between men and women. Through her research Clara’s main question is to ask why, in this gender order and hierarchy, why is it that when we look at the relationship between men and women, women are in this condition of inequality?
Ana Paula presented an analysis of policies on human trafficking and modern slavery – categories used to define migratory flows and movements of people perceived as illegal, causing a deep securitization of policies in different countries and which have triggered historical criminalizing notions when it comes to historically marginalized and stigmatized bodies and people. Her main argument is that these policies implemented to combat human trafficking and slavery have done the exact opposite – reactivated discriminations and inequalities fed by racist theories when it comes to the migratory flows of certain individuals and have criminalized forms of mobility.
Laura interrogated local and trans-continental struggles to generate and circulate narratives and images that empower sex workers and give them voice, in a context of moral panic, violence and social inequality through co-creation, collaborative processes. She drew upon her field work during the Rio Games and the intense moral panic present at the time, as a case study. She asked how we can resignify what prostitution is and how to tell of the experiences of prostitutes during mega events that see violent police crackdowns on those in sex commerce. She turned to a project called “What You Don’t See.” What You Don’t See: Prostitution As We See It is intended to circulate narratives about sex work produced by sex workers during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Sixteen sex workers from diverse contexts in Rio de Janeiro kept visual and audio diaries of their everyday experiences. Overall, participants shared more than 1,500 photos, thousands of texts, and hundreds of audios through WhatsApp during the Games. Participants named the exhibition “What You Don’t see: Prostitution As We See It” to affirm their protagonist role, draw attention to their diverse subjectivities, and portray themselves as deserving of rights and respect for who they are and what they do.
Sonia and Masrgaret spoke as representatives of a protest collective, with Sonia introducing thirteen theses on feminism and protest that the collective has released. In relation to the themes of this conference, Sonia said that it “challenges the idea that there is a directionality from north to south in the global dissemination of feminisms and that feminism, in fact, is also one of the futures, if not the future of the global studies field.” She notes that In Brazil and Latin America in general, people used to think that feminism was something coming from the North, something bourgeois, and unsuitable for South America. So they wanted to challenge this rationale and directionality and “insist that feminism did not originate among white Renaissance European women,” and instead point out that feminism had many origins; origins that overlap. Their approach also challenges traditional social science approaches to protest, which assumes that protest produces history and not the inverse. Margaret makes clear that this is a manifesto, and that manifestos are a utopian genre whose aim is to provoke hope and create a desire for a different global-scale feminist future. “That is our goal – to encourage thinking and action that extend the power of feminist protest,” said Margaret.
Reimagining Global Media and Social Communication Beyond Borders Panel
Subsequently, our global-media focused panel featured professors Manaira Athayde, Beatriz Bissio and PhD candidate Leonard Cortana. They discussed topics involved in reimagining global media and social communication beyond borders.
Manaíra Athayde talked about how using Global Studies approaches in Humanities projects can enhance cross-cultural perspectives, comparative research lines, and critical and creative thinking. She also showed how the repertoire of Global Studies can be aided by media and literary studies, especially in the field of Digital Humanities. To this end, Manaíra analyzed the production of digital content in Brazil and Mexico, examining how the image and work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) and Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) have been used to turn them into two major global media phenomena in recent decades. Through this case study, Manaíra discussed how transdisciplinary projects and transnational perspectives can produce creative, dynamic and engaged approaches to literary and cultural phenomena, encouraging us to create connections, relationships and analogies between diverse cultures, places, and times.
Beatriz began her presentation by asking us, why should we look to the past if we are here discussing making a better future? She proceeds to tell us her decades long history as an international journalist that she feels will be relevant for this coming future. Beatriz told us of her many works, but focussed on the action filled history of Third World, a magazine that was very popular and influential in Brazil and the Global South, of which she was founder, director, and editor. Through telling us of the incredible interviews and pieces published in the magazine, we learned that the magazine was used by people in the Global South as literacy education, and even as a means for resistance in struggle.
Leonard spoke about the global multi-continental public created by documentary films and their “social impact campaigns.” Documentary films can promote social change by launching advocacy initiatives and calls to action based on the social issues the film addresses, accompanying the marketing campaign, which Leonard said could be contradictory elements. He talked about two documentary films, “Murder in Paris: The Assassination of Dulcie September,” and “Welcome to Chechnya: Inside the Russian Republic’s Deadly War on Gays,” though he mainly focused on Murder in Paris, as he was involved in the impact campaign and shared his actions around the film. Dulcie was a South African anti-apartheid activist, and the primary goal of this impact campaign is to redress the wrong that is her erasure in this history and in the story of anti-apartheid action. He stressed the need for social impact campaigns to draw from global experts who can first challenge this global North and global South dynamics, such as concerns regarding ethical collaborations that go with network building in film distribution.
Social Policies, Social Inequalities and the Importance of Global Comparative Perspectives
In our final panel of the Global Studies minicurso, our panelists focused on Global Studies methods for measuring and confronting social inequality on a variety of global, national, and international scales. Leonardo Souza Silveira addressed the potential and limits of global and local analyses of income inequality. Briefly, there are transnational flows and relations between nations and other entities that have an impact on the level of inequality between and within countries. At the same time, important tools for combating inequality can be found in national entities. So, to what extent do the global and local levels interact? Hypotheses on concentration and distribution of income in economic and sociological theories were presented, as well as counter-positions. His presentation illustrated the case of Brazil, the United States, and some European and Asian countries, as well as the consequences at the local and global levels.
Raquel Emerique spoke on how a global studies perspective could properly address educational issues, especially educational inequality. She discussed the historical rationale for education and educational models as it relates to nation-building. The state-led this effort, education was used as a means of socialization, and education as a means of providing social mobility. Although education and educational systems are proposed as a solution to inequality, we see that education itself can even promote inequality, not just within but also between countries. So she focused on comparative studies and comparative research approaches on education as a global approach.
Maira Covre presented part of the paper that she is jointly working on with previous panelist Clara Araujo on gender inequality. While Clara had addressed individual correlations, Maira addressed correlations between countries. This presentation was not only a showcase of some of the data analysis in their paper but a presentation on how to utilize already existing data. She acknowledges that in the social sciences when we think of fieldwork and field data, we think of our own collected data, but what about comparable data that already exist? She showed us data on an international level already available on various platforms, introduced us to these platforms, and led us through how and what kind of analyses we can do with said data and platforms.
Throughout this course, professors, students and audience alike were exposed to groundbreaking research, all either articulated through a framework of Global Studies or talked about with regards to the potential of such research if conducted with a global lens. 2023 was a propitious time to launch Global Studies in Brazil, as invited by the alliance of universities and faculty participants arrayed around UERJ, and as demonstrated by the huge number of registered student participants who completed the entire minicurso and earned their certificates of completion, thereby creating the first cohort of Global Studies students in the country. The goal was not to “import” the field of Global Studies from the North or to replicate what already exists, but to re-articulate the field organically, on Brazilian terms. With the completion and complete success of this course, and the launching of the Global Studies Center at UERJ (the Nucleo de Estudos Globais), it is safe to say that this emergence has begun and will be sustained by the now first cohort of Global Studies specialists formed in Brazil.