By Kailee Hagl and Hailey Karnowski
There are many political and social expectations we thought we would experience and observe while in Brazil. Throughout the semester, we studied race, gender, and inequality in Brazil. We read literature that focused on the LGBTQ+ community, political ideologies, environmental issues, and much more. In our study abroad portion of the class, we have observed and experienced specifics that either confirm or deny our expectations of Brazil after reading scholarly literature. We also find it important to address common misconceptions that we were able to debunk through our observations here.
Much of our research prior to our trip to Salvador included the movements, notably high violence, discrimination, and misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ+ rights. With Brazil being the massive, diverse country that it is, we assumed that much of this could be visible amongst society and in the media in Brazil. According to one of our authors, Omar Encarnación, Brazil is “world-renown for celebrating sexual diversity and gender non-conformity” and persists in social movements despite political backlash (Encarnación, 2018). On Monday, May 17th, some of our expectations of the visibility of the LGBTQ+ movements were supported. Our trip to Pelourhinho, Salvador happened to be the same day of an LGBTQ+ historic day. Sure enough, hundreds of people crowded the streets celebrating the day of anti-homosexuality. Other than this one account, the appearance of LGBTQ+ culture and acceptance have yet to be seen—although this could be due to differences in culture and expression amongst the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil.
Importantly, our research regarding LGBTQ+ rights in Brazil highlighted the high rate of violence against transgender and other LGBTQ+ individuals. With Brazil being one of (if not) the most dangerous countries for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals to live, we expected there to be some sort of acknowledgement of the presence of the transgender and gender non-conforming community. One article we explored mentioned not only the violence against LGBTQ+ members, but the negative actions such as deadnaming and religion enforcing that persists in Brazil as well (Calling, 2020). Again, we expected to see or hear about some of these encounters while being immersed in the Brazilian culture, but it is more than possible that the unfamiliar language spoken and lack of exploration of the entire culture has limited our observations. Despite this, we did expect to see more openly expressive LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming community members than we have thus far.
The literature about environmental issues addresses the ever-expanding urbanization of the country as well as the fight to preserve vegetations, especially the Amazon. So far in Brazil, we have seen how much of the larger cities are constructing more and more housing. This confirms our expectations as previous literature has stated metro areas in Brazil are expanding and deforestation is occurring. One author concludes, “Despite the effort to integrate the activities of conservation and preservation with the demands for expansion of the city, urban areas are still advancing on remaining vegetation areas” (Young 2013, 113). This also addresses our expectations as we expected to see efforts of conservation in populated areas that are continuing to grow. We constantly see workers planting trees and various plants; however, we also see buildings in construction everywhere. Therefore, what we have observed while abroad have both confirmed and denied our expectations.
There are also common misconceptions that are important to address when discussing Brazil. The first is that Brazil is a poor country. This is not the case as Brazil has one of the quickest growing economies and is rich in natural resources. The country has a steadily increasing GDP as well. Although there are many poor areas with hillside houses, there are also many rich areas with skyscrapers. The second common misconception is that Brazilians do not experience racial inequality since they are essentially a melting pot of race and culture. This is also false, and there is literature to help confirm; “Inequality persists in Brazilian society and black activists have struggled to create a more equitable society” (Mitchell-Walthour 2017, 20). The inequality Afro-Brazilians experience affect them in all aspects of their lives, especially education. While abroad we learned about the Brazilian education system and how the system is rigged to benefit the rich and white, while making it harder for those who are black or poor to get into a federal university after high school. This confirms that Brazilians do experience inequality in their everyday lives.
Overall, there are many political and social expectations we thought we would experience and observe while in Brazil, and our lectures, experiences, and observations have helped us to come to these conclusions. A final thought to keep in mind would be that everything is not always as it seems, and actually observing and experiencing something for yourself is an efficient way to conduct research and find answer to our hypotheses.
Calling, Nikita. 2020. “Stigmatization and Discrimination: A Qualitative Case Study of the
Transgender Community in Brazil.” Lund University LUP Student Papers. https://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/search/publication/9011192
Encarnación, Omar G. 2018. “A Latin American Puzzle: Gay Rights Landscapes in Argentina
and Brazil.” Human Rights Quarterly 40 (1): 194–218. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.csbsju.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=127958474&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys. 2017. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316888742.
Young, Andrea. 2013. “Urbanization, Environmental Justice, and Social-Environmental Vulnerability in Brazil.” In Urbanization and Sustainability: Linking Urban Ecology, Environmental Justice and Global Environmental Change, 95–116. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5666-3_7.
Kailee Hagl is a junior at CSB/SJU and is majoring in Political Science with a focus on law. She also is pursuing a minor in Hispanic Studies, as well as a minor in Latin American Studies. She is originally from Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Kailee enjoys learning about politics in other countries, social justice issues, and analyzing court cases. She looks forward to applying her experience abroad to her academics in her final year at CSB/SJU.
Hailey Karnowski is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict, pursuing a major in sociology and minor in political science. She is originally from Farmington, Minnesota. Hailey is the new president of the CSB rugby team and works for IT Services. She hopes to work in social work or criminology after graduating and is looking forward to gaining new experiences and perspectives while studying abroad.
By Hailee Thayer
In the two weeks that we’ve been in Bahia, Brazil, we have learned more about the culture and political landscape than we could ever have in the classroom. We have been staying with a host family, which allowed us to immerse ourselves fully in Brazilian culture. I first started noticing Brazilian Elections and politics.
On the first day, we were driving from the airport to the hotel. There was a lot of graffiti, but one that stuck out to me was the phrase “Fora Bolsonaro” which translates to “Out Bolsonaro” in English.
This has still stayed with me and shows the general political leaning of the city. This dynamic is even present in my host home. When I returned home one night, I went to sit with my host dad to watch soccer. At first he turned on the news and turned-on CNN. The Republican Primaries were on, and the topic of conversation turned to politics. My host dad asked if Trump still had a following in the United States, I responded yes and used it as an opportunity to see which way he leaned. I asked if he liked Bolsonaro, and he replied “No, I think he is a bad ruler and a bit authoritarian”. This is a common thought with everyone that I’ve interacted with. I also learned that Lula, served as the Brazilian President from 2003 to 2010, was instrumental for rural communities, specifically for education. Lula and Dilma Rousseff introduced quotas to the Brazilian education system for higher education. These quotas are there in order to diversify the population of higher education institutions. They have greatly increased the number of Black students that attend both public and private universities. On that same train of thought, gender quotas have increased the presence of women in Brazilian Political Parties. But despite the quota, the number of women elected to government positions remains low (Gatto and Wylie 2021, 3). The representation of women in politics is an important issue to me, and to see gender quotas working (even if the number of women in government positions is still what we consider to be low), it gives me hope for the future.
Another important aspect of Brazilian culture is Carnaval. Many people think of Carnaval as a big parade with extravagant costumes, but it is so much more than that. Carnaval used to be a celebration for Brazilian Elites (also known as the Portuguese/Europeans) and would take place inside houses. Salves during this time started dancing and celebrating in the streets. This later became what Carnaval is today. It represents racial pride and many of the songs and instruments played are of African origin. Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro “became the most holy ritual of mestiço nationalism and the celebration of mestiçagem” (Eakin 2017, 91). Mestiçagem refers to ‘the mixing’ and is the term for the mixing of mainly African and Indigenous people, but also between African, Indigenous, and European people. This idea was present during Carnaval, but now Carnaval is a celebration of Black Pride. We also went to Casa do Carnaval, a museum all about the history and culture of Carnaval. We saw costumes from different ‘blocos’ or Carnaval groups. We also saw different individual costumes and one of them reminded me about the Mulata we read about in class. The Mulata is described as “thee most potent image of Brazilian sexuality” (Eakin 2017, 108). The Mulata became the ideal type of woman that every woman aspired to be. These lead to interesting gender dynamics within Brazilian society, but also within Carnaval itself. Below is an image of a costume that a woman wore during Carnaval. The dress itself looks like it emphasizes the chest area of the woman and her curves with how tight the dress is. There are still manifestations of the Mulata in Brazilian society and Carnaval.
The last interesting and important aspect of Brazilian culture are Afro-Brazilian religions. The one we learned the most about is Candomblé. This is a religion that was created through syncretism. Syncretism is the “process by which elements of 1 religion are assimilated into another religion resulting in a change in the nature of the religion. It creates an entirely new religion” (Lecture on Umbanda and Candomblé, May 16, 2022). When the Slave Trade was going on in Brazil, African people were taken from all over the continent and brought them to Brazil. This created a mixing of different religious traditions and customs and with Catholicism which resulted in Umbanda and Candomblé. In Candomblé, practioners worship 12 spirits, or gods, called Orixás. The Orixás that are recognized in Brazil are Oxalá, Lemanjá, Xangô, Iansã, Oxóssi, Ogum, Oxum, Exú, Omulu, Nanã, Ossaim, and Oxumaré. Because of the mixing with Catholicism, the Orixás have been associated with Catholic Saints. For example, the Orixá, Oxalá is associated with Jesus. Each Orixá is associated with a color and nature element as well as having a unique symbol. Many Brazilians practice Candomblé and I consider it to be a key aspect of Afro-Brazilian culture and heritage.
Eakin, Marshall C. “Communicating and Understanding Mestiçagem Radio, Samba, and Carnaval.” Essay. In Becoming Brazilian: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil, 79–106. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Eakin, Marshall C. “Visualizing Mestiçagem Literature, Film, and the Mulata.” Essay. In Becoming Brazilian: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil, 107–35. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Gatto, Malu AC, and Kristin N Wylie. “Informal Institutions and Gendered Candidate Selection in Brazilian Parties.” Party Politics, 2021, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/13540688211008842.
Santos, Willys. Lecture on “Umbanda and Candomblé: The History, Tenets, and Practices” May
16, 2022, Salvador, Brazil.
Hailee Thayer recently graduated from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Gender Studies. She is from Prior Lake Minnesota. Hailee enjoys learning about the intersection of gender and aspects of everyday life as well as political representation. Hailee also enjoys reading in her free time and playing rugby.
By Betty Garcia Herrera
In the introduction of learning the systemic structure of Brazil, it definitely caught me by surprise. It was quite easy to have read about all the difficulties Brazilians face socially, and economically in our short CD mod class, but to have the ability to view it clear as day definitely brought more clarity. Never had I imagined there was this much of a wide gap to the lack of representation in such a diverse country, learn about the struggles individuals/organizers face in developing more projects, and creating this atmosphere of cultural appreciation towards the various ethnic groups in Brazil. Nations will continue to exist (and some will remain very powerful) but global culture industries will also continue to fragment, differentiate, and deterritorialize (Larrin 2000). In a sense this made me reflect on the living conditions my parents experienced in adjusting to a new country and their difficulties for equality, and how I was able to relate to these organizers in their struggles of trying to show more cultural appreciation in their environment. It’s quite difficult being limited to resources to have the chance to flourish, and expected to work twice as hard to receive half of what others achieve, but that’s just the reality many of us with darker skin complexion, and ethnic features face.
Gaining the opportunity to live with a host family has continued to open my horizon into learning first hand their personal up comings. My host mother is of a darker complexion, and has continued to strive her hardest to provide the best education for her daughters. Racism was very much a part of this intraclass struggle. In spite of traditional discourse in Brazil about “racial democracy,” the darkest Brazilians have the least education, live in the most precarious housing, hold the worst jobs, get the lowest pay (even for the same jobs as lighter Brazilians), die youngest, and hold very few elected posts or high positions in business, government, or the military (Caipora Women’s Group 1993; Fiola 1990). After a few days of adjusting, and getting the preview of the education system in Brazil, I asked my host mother about what process she had set her daughters through. I’ve met one of her daughters, and she’s becoming a doctor. I admire her strength, and will continue to support her on her path. I haven’t met her other daughter as she’s studying in Portugal to become a lawyer. Her daughters both had a private education, but it wasn’t easily done. Apart from living in the city, she has her own jewelry business called Quintal. Going to plug in her instagram, @use_quintal. Her work deserves more appreciation!! I love seeing her passion for this exceed as I shared a few pictures of her work with my friends’ and they instantly purchased her items! She also manages her farm outside of the city. There were a few pictures she showed me, and felt this source of connection between us.
I had no great detail about my host family previously coming to Brazil, and all I knew was that she was middle class. I felt it was right to have shared about my background, and how there wasn’t enough unity in my community as it has become highly diverse. As well the background of my parents. My mother has her own land in Guatemala, and as I told her she grew in awe of her. My host mother wishes to one day have the ability to retire on her farm land, and instantly she reminded me of my mother. Side note, I felt this connection that she is exactly like my mother just from another country. I have not once felt homesick as my host mom showed the exact same love I receive from my mother. (Te Amo Mami)
Before coming to college, I had faced many difficulties in having the ability to receive higher education. Never did I think college was available for me as my options were very limited. My best, and most stable path was to enter the workforce, and stay there despite all my hardworking time and effort I’ve put into school. I can imagine this falls the same with many kids who have these same circumstances. Blacks are more concentrated in regions where the number of higher education institutions is lower, which may affect the access rates by race/color. (Artes,A.& Ricoldi 2015). Learning about the Instituto Cultural of Steve Biko - Education and affirmative action in Brazil, I was reminded of a program back in my hometown that supported me in the process of the college path, Upward Bound. They provided the resources for us to study for the ACT, and guided us through our choices of which college would be the best fit for us. The Instituto Cultural of Steve Biko provided the resources to prepare students for the ENEM exam, which decides what school is the best fit for the student based on their results, and additionally provide this space for these students to learn more about their ancestry, themselves, and their potential. Honestly I was jealous as this program truly creates the environment for leaders to find their voice and advocate for racial inequality issues. I felt a bit defeated learning about the hardships that Brazil has faced, and what slow economic growth it has received. It had its chance to strive, but unfortunately it just didn’t occur. There is far too much grief from many researchers I’ve heard from in Brazil about its lost potential, but from these hardships all I’ve seen so far is growth. Too often those who have fervently appealed to this grand narrative as Brazil’s past, and its present, also assume that it is Brazil’s future (Van Delden, M. 2001).
Artes, A., & Ricoldi, A. M. (2015). Acesso de Negros no ensino superior: O que mudou entre 2000 e 2010. Cadernos de Pesquisa. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.scielo.br/j/cp/a/tttVNfkLTtGXpmB8JDFcdnD/?lang=pt
Children on the Streets of the Americas : Globalization, Homelessness and Education in the United States, Brazil, and Cuba, edited by Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, Taylor & Francis Group, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csbsju/detail.action?docID=178419.
Jorge Larrain, Identity and Modernity in Latin America (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000), 170.
Van Delden, M. (2001). [Review of the book Identity and Modernity in Latin America]. Modernism/modernity 8(4), 702-703. doi:10.1353/mod.2001.0095.
Van Delden, M. (2001). [Review of the book Identity and Modernity in Latin America]. Modernism/modernity 8(4), 702-703. doi:10.1353/mod.2001.0095.
Betty Garcia Herrera is an upcoming sophomore at College of Saint Benedict. She's currently majoring in environmental studies on a pre-engineering track. Her hometown is Worthington, Minnesota. Betty loves being apart of the conversation on social justice issues. During her time in Brazil, she hopes to analyzed more deeply how race and gender are important categories in understanding the country’s struggle for social and economic development.
By Grace Terlinden
The biggest learning experience so far on the trip has been learning the influence that slavery had on Brazil. As Xavier Vatin mentioned in his lecture on, “The African Diaspora in Bahia: A Socio-Anthropological Perspective” there were over eight million slaves whom are thought to be brought to Brazil largely from Angola, Benin, Congo, and others (Brazil An Inconvenient Truth). All documentation of enslaved peoples were burned after abolition in 1888 which inhibits opportunities for Brazilians to connect with their African heritage, however the cultural influence from Africa cannot be dismissed or destroyed (Vatin 2022). The impact enslaved peoples had on Brazilian culture remains today through music, dance, and has implications on all aspects of Brazilian life, and still effects politics today.
Music in Brazil still maintains many of it’s African characteristics and genres that were created by Africans. The lecture at the beginning of the percussion workshop with Mario Pam and Ilê Ahiê taught us that many of the musical genres that today Brazilians enjoy such as samba, jazz, and blues were all created by Africans. An outlet in which this musical influence shines through is during carnaval. Although carnaval started as a European tradition, but expanded into what it is today, because of black artists. An important aspect to carnaval is showcasing the Afro-Brazilian music styles such as Samba (Eakin 2017). The Afro-Brazilian influence of carnaval is not always appreciated, and has received backlash from the state. Marshall Eakin explained this struggle for representation and accreditation in his chapter Samba, Carnaval, and Getúlio Vargas and said, “The lower classes that created and sustained the escolas de samba began a long struggle with the representatives of the State as each attempted to control and determine the direction of carnaval with samba at its center” (2017). This quote probes that although African influence has made Brazilian music and carnaval what it is today, they are not always properly acknowledged for their success. As seen with carnaval, music is often accompanied with dance, and in the case of Brazil, dance is also heavily influenced by the enslaved people.
Some of the most popular forms of dance in Brazil were either created or heavily influenced by enslaved peoples. Capoeira was created by slaves in order to defend themselves from their oppressors, but presently it is less about self-defense and more of a dance. In our workshop with Mestre Sapoti, he explained that today Capoeira is used to remember the atrocities of slavery and to keep pushing towards racial equality (2022). It is a common misconception that enslaved peoples were not pushing back against oppression, but amidst the tyranny, Capoeira is proof that all along enslaved people were constantly fighting back. Gladys Mitchell-Walthour stated in their book The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil, “Running away and revolts were forms of resistance. There were a number of revolts led by enslaved people” (2017). Afro-Brazilians created many forms of art such as dance and music as a form of resistance, and in the case of Capoeira as a revolt against slave owners. Not only did Afro-Brazilians create a lot of the music and dance enjoyed today in Brazil, but they did it in spite of the violence their oppressors held over their heads.
The influence of slavery in Brazil has sparked my interest since being here, because although slavery is often thought to have happened a long long time ago and some consider it’s impacts to no longer exist. It didn’t really hit me how little time has passed since slaveries abolition until taking to our tour guide Fredi who showed me a picture of his father-in-law whose father was a slave. This interaction was important to my understanding about the individual as well as collective impacts that slavery still has on Brazil and internationally. Slavery’s influence on Brazilian culture is certainly important, but the individual impacts it still has today should be acknowledged. The “color-blind” ideology that has been popularized in Brazil as a form of complete racial equality is therefore the quite opposite of equal. Without acknowledging the cultural and social implications that the legacy of slavery has on Brazil will only exacerbate racial inequality. Raising awareness and giving credit to Afro-Brazilians who have made positive influences on music, dance, and culture is also an important step towards repairing racial inequalities.
Brazil An Inconvenient Truth : BBC Documentary. 2020. Video.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. «Communicating and Understanding Mestiçagem: Radio, Samba, and
Carnaval». Chapter in . Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-
Century Brazil, 79–106. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316800058.004.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. «The Sounds of Cultural Citizenship». Chapter in . Becoming
Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil, 200–219. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316800058.008.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys L. 2017. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political
Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. Cambridge Studies in Stratification Economics:
Economics and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316888742.
Grace Terlinden is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, pursing degrees in English and Political Science. She is originally from Big Lake, Minnesota.
She enjoys learning about international relations through her involvement in Model United Nations. She is very excited to learn more about Brazilian politics and life in Brazil while
By Kathryn McDonough
In the United States, many students go to college or university once they graduate high school. When in high school, I had no doubt that I would be accepted to at least one university, if not multiple. The biggest choice my peers and I had to make about college is what one we would choose. Many of us take it for granted that college is so easily accessible to us, which is not the case in many countries. During our time here, we have learned about the education system in Brazil. Over the course of the class, we have discussed race and gender inequality in Brazil. These inequalities can be seen in the education system.
In our lecture at Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, we learned about the ENEM exam, which is the college entrance exam (similar to the ACT/SAT), and the importance of the score. For Brazilians, this score is the most important thing for college acceptance. Not only is the score the most important thing, it’s the only thing that universities look at when determining whether or not to accept a student or not. Brazilian universities do not look at GPA, sports, extracurriculars, etc. when determining who gets accepted. These exams are offered once a year and if a student doesn’t do well, they must wait until the next year to take the exam, hence pushing back their college career (“Education and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). Using a score to determine college acceptance may sound fair because it is based on ability and not other factors. However, we see there are many flaws with this system.
Although the exam system doesn’t seem to favor any race, we see inequalities come into play which leads to certain people having the advantage. White people have a much higher chance of passing and getting into a good university because they have more resources to help them prepare for the exam and better high schools with more funding that prepare them for this exam. We learned how hard this exam is and that the pass rate is much higher for students attending private schools. If a student wants to go to college, going to a private high school is essential. Parents will pay a lot for their children to go to the top private schools. Since
Afro-Brazilian families tend to be among the lower classes due to their long run oppression, it is hard for the families to send their children to private schools. Many of these families cannot afford private education and sending their children could have long run consequences. We see that the education system has racial biases since the system favors those with more resources and money (aka white people).
During our lecture in Cachoeira with Xavier Vatin at UFRB we talked again about race and education. Xavier told us that the university intentionally selects Black students. Although this is controversial in America, this seems to be a really good thing in these circumstances.
Universities like this one help bridge the education gap. Xavier told us that there was a substantial amount of first generation Afro-Brazilian students at the university as well as many Afro-Brazilian professors. He said that many of their university students will get their masters degree and come back to teach at the university and help other students. Xavier also talked about the positive impact that former President Lula had on representation in higher education and Black pride. Although increasing Afro-Brazilian representation in higher education is not currently the priority, Xavier was confident in a positive future with future leaders.
In our lecture with Alcides I learned that there are after school programs that help provide additional learning opportunities to educate students. These programs helped to increase the number of students passing their college entrance exams. Alcides discussed the projects that he had worked on. These programs are implemented to help increase Black pride. For example, one of the programs he mentioned was a ten day workshop dedicated to promoting black empowerment. They taught Afro-Brazilians, both male and female, how to braid and style curly hair and be proud of it instead of trying to straighten it/ style it according to European standards (Alcides). Programs like this are important and may help improve the confidence of Afro-Brazilian students.
In my research on the racial and gender inequalities in politics, I found, “Sustained white men’s dominance in Brazilian political institutions and deterred white and Afro-Brazilian women’s political ambition.” (Wylie, 121). Many Afro-Brazilian women had no motivation to run for office because of the long run oppression they faced. Applying this concept to the education system may be beneficial. Many Afro-Brazilian students have no motivation to even try to pass this exam because it feels so hopeless since the system favors white people. At Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, we saw how their exam prep program was able to help teach students key concepts in the exam to help increase their scores and chances of getting into university. Not only did the students learn exam content, they also learned that they were capable and the program aimed to increase Black pride. We listened to a former student talk about the positive impact this program had on his life. He talked about how amazing college was for him and that he wanted to help other students make it to college and experience what he did. It was really amazing to see how much of an impact this program had on his life. Programs like this may help increase the ambitions of Afro-Brazilian students, which may in turn lead to increased representation in higher education.
In conclusion, we see that the education system in Brazil is systemically racist and would benefit from changes or implementation of programs to help Afro-Brazilians. When looking at the Brazilian education system, it is important to recognize our privileges as Americans and understand that we are outsiders. It’s important to understand that we can’t fully understand and that, although it may be helpful to propose solutions and support programs such as the ones mentioned above, the situation is very complex and that we should not make assumptions based on our circumstances.
Alcides (Pai de Santo). “Condomble in practice” Lecture at ICR Brasil, May 16, 2022.
“Education and Affirmative Action in Brazil.” Lecture at Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, May 20,
Vatin, Xavier. “The African Diaspora in Bahia: A Socio-Anthropological Perspective.” Lecture at UFRB, May 19, 2022.
Wylie, Kristen. 2020. “Taking Bread Off the Table: Race, Gender, Resources and Political Ambition in Brazil.” European Journal of Politics and Gender 3, no. 1: 121- 142. https://doi.org/ 10.1332/251510819X15719917787141.
I am Kathryn McDonough. I was born and raised in Faribault, Minnesota. I’m a senior math major at CSBSJU. I enjoy applied mathematics and am currently planning on becoming an actuary. When studying abroad in Brazil I hope to immerse myself into the culture and gain a new perspective of the world.
By Lizbet Martinez and Fabian Venegas Ramos
On the day we are writing this, we have been in Bahia for 12 days. Through our educational program, we have learned about various topics related to race, gender, and inequality in Brazil including the education system, religion, and expansive history lessons. Some of our favorite lectures and experiences, however, have been centered on music and dance. These two mediums are more than just entertainment, but cultural ways of being, building community, and (re)connecting to ancestral roots. It has been an energizing and empowering experience to engage and interact with various cultural forms of dance and music unique to Brazil.
On the evening of our first full day in Bahia, we had a capoeira workshop with Mestre Sapoti. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, movement, and music. Mestre Sapoti discussed the origins of capoeira and how it came from the enslaved Africans in Brazil and was used as a form of self-defense disguised as dance. We learned how to do the ginga, the basic step, as well as a few offensive and defensive moves. We also learned about the musical instruments used to play the music for capoeira and the call and response songs that people sing. It was emphasized that people do not fight capoeira, but it is something that is played. It remains a very important part of Afro-Brazilian tradition and can be seen in the streets just about anywhere in Bahia. The workshop was a great way for us to dive into Brazilian culture.
We also had the incredible opportunity of learning Afro-Brazilian dance with Antonio Cozido, creator of Swing Afro Baiano. His zealous attitude, cheerful chants, and words of wisdom created an unforgettable experience for us both, one that we have been looking forward to since the start of the course on campus. To begin the dancing workshop, we did some grounding exercises to connect to our body’s five senses and to connect with our surrounding environment. He also re-introduced us to a Yoruba word used in Candomblé religion – Axé, which means “energy.” “AXÉ! AXÉ! AXÉ!” echoed throughout the room as we all chanted together several times throughout the workshop to reinvigorate each other’s energy. We learned how to dance Samba, Folha, and other dances that are popular in Brazil. The dances were all distinct from one another; some were easier to remember, some sensual and slow, and others upbeat and fast-paced.
Samba, more specifically, is a Brazilian dance that is considered one of the most representative elements of Brazilian culture. Compared to other dance styles, Samba was a unique and fun dance to learn. The emergence and spread of Samba in the 1920s was a popular sensation and in the 30s fused with carnaval, becoming emblematic of Brazil’s cultural identity. Samba was distinctly used to enhance a national identity and connect the regions of Brazil, which at the time were developing their own unique and competing music sounds. The most influential radio station of Brazil in the 1940s—Rádio Nacional, for example, “promoted the song heavily, and openly declared samba and its sentiments as the core of national identity” (Eakin 2017, p. 204). Together, popular media and the state pushed Samba as a cultural piece that would build bridges between cultural groups and create the Brazilian people.
Like samba, another essential aspect of Brazilian culture is the carnaval. We were able to visit the Casa do Carnaval museum in Bahia to learn about the importance of carnaval in Brazil. As Eakin explains, carnaval “emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as the principal ritual showcasing the Freyrean vision…it became the most holy ritual of mestiço nationalism and the celebration of mestiçagem” (2017, 204). It is a ritual and national festivity that comes from European roots but is grounded in various Brazilian (particularly afro-Brazilian) traditions. At the museum we got to see colorful costumes, did an interactive dance experience, and saw how carnaval brings all people together.
Similarly, music had an instrumental role in creating the national identity of Brazil that is known today. The rise in popular music contributed to ethnic mixing for indigenous, African, and Portuguese people, allowing various styles to form, interact, and fuse with each other. Eakin (2017) states, “The cultural arena provided Brazilians opportunities for participation and belonging that were not open to them in the political arena, especially during the years of dictatorship” (p. 202). This highlights how popular music was fundamental for Brazilian culture and citizenship because it created space for Brazilians of different groups, particularly those existing in the margins, to engage with its production and consumption. This was demonstrated in the Percussion Workshop we had with Mario Pam. We saw and learned to play instruments with either indigenous roots, African roots, or European roots. These different instruments became used by other cultural groups to create and influence new music forms. This allowed different cultures to be represented and be part of an “imagined community.”
Our unique experience has demonstrated to us that inequality and racial injustice is prevalent in every aspect of life in Brazil. We see it very clearly in the arts that are often rooted in afro-Brazilian culture and are used as a means to fight back against discrimination and injustice. From capoeira to samba to carnaval, people are taking up space and keeping traditions alive. The arts experiences that we have been fortunate enough to have gone through have not only taught us about the issues, but we were fully immersed in experiencing the response to those issues. We know we will take with us the understanding and skills we learned, and we hope to be able to spread the wisdom, strength, and passion we acquired through the workshops and lectures.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. “The Sounds of Cultural Citizenship.” Chapter. In Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth Century Brazil. 200–219. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lizbet Martinez-Port is a senior at the College of Saint Benedict studying political science and Hispanic studies. She is from Minneapolis, Minnesota and enjoys learning about topics that intersect within her majors. She is passionate about immigration reform, as well as other social justice issues. On campus, she sings, dances, and acts. She looks forward to learning about a new culture and language during her time abroad in Brazil.
Fabian Venegas-Ramos is from Immokalee, Florida. They are a senior, soon to be graduate of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. They will be receiving their bachelor's degree in Sociology and Gender Studies. Fabian is passionate about social justice, and queer and trans rights and activism. They look forward to immersing themselves in the Brazilian culture through music, dance, and food!
By Julia Krystofiak and Miriam Nelson
Upon arriving in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, we acclimated to our initial surroundings at Wish Hotel. The streets were bustling with a mix of automobiles, motorcycles, and pedestrians—the sounds echoing off the towering white high-rise buildings. Various tropical plants (climate type Am to those who are wondering) grew between the buildings, pavement, and the square and hexagonal pavers. We ventured outside the intensely airconditioned and falsely manicured paradise of the hotel to a nearby park. People hurried around its perimeter, while others walked dogs on the inside, roller skated, stopped to look at the giant statue, or worked out at the outdoor gym. We took in the setting, enjoying this island of outdoor recreation between the network of busy streets. Standing on the central walkway looking towards a manmade pond we heard a yell, “you are beautiful!” We looked around. A group of young people shyly smiled as they approached. They repeated “you are beautiful.” This initially created a situation of intense discomfort for us—as we acknowledged that it was a group of young black women calling a group of primarily blonde, white women beautiful. This prompted our discussion of how European features are incorporated into Brazilian beauty standards as a means of oppression, which we learned about in class (Mitchell-Walthour 2017, 5; Pravaz 2019, 81-84).
Mentioned by Fred on our first tour of Salvador, the “mulata” embodies the Brazilian beauty ideal—a mix of European and Afro-descendant features. The mulata is a hyper-sexualized beauty standard in Brazil rooted in both racial and gender-based discrimination (Pravaz 2009, 80). Brazilian standards on body shape fluctuate depending on the region in Brazil, as larger more voluptuous bodies are associated with health and fertility in Northern Brazil (Fred 2022) and slimmer figures are more represented by beauty standards in Southern Brazil. To demonstrate the pervasiveness of these body shape standards, a 2012 study of Brazilian schoolchildren observed high levels of meal-skipping and laxative use among adolescent girls and the use of weight loss medicines among adolescent boys (Claro, Santos, Oliviera-Campos 2012). In both cases, these extreme measures were taken by school-aged children in attempt to achieve the “ideal” body type.
Telenovelas are a platform that widely and effectively convey nationally held beauty standards, including standards intrinsic in “mulata” beauty ideals (Eakin 2017). In Brazilian media, Sonia Braga starred in a range of productions (Gabriela, Dancin’ Days, Dama da lotação, Dona Flor, Eu te amo, Kiss of the Spider Woman, the Milagro Beanfield War, and Moon Over Parador) and brought to the forefront of immensely popular telenovelas the image of the “mulata,” and with it, mestiçagem, or complete racial mixing (Eakin 2017, 150). The mulata emerged as “one of the most potent and pervasive images” in twentieth century Brazil (Eakin 2017, 110). However, research on mestiçagem in terms of race and color within telenovelas has been limited, as most research has been conducted on class inequality within telenovelas. “Most of the commentary on race relations has focused on the absence of black actors in the novelas, except in menial roles such as cooks, maids, and hired help” (Eakin 2017, 153).
Similar to societal standards produced in many states around the world, trans and cis women in Brazil are subjected to unrealistic beauty standards that fuel systematic oppression and racism. In a study examining beauty standards globally, it was found that:
Brazilians had the highest prevalence of stating that beauty increases opportunities in life (66.0%). Additionally, more than a half of all women in Brazil have already considered having cosmetic surgery, and 7.0% reported having undergone some kind of cosmetic procedure – the highest of all countries surveyed. Brazil was also the world’s largest consumer of weight-loss medications per capita (Laus et al. 2014).
In Brazil, publicly perceived racial and gender identities are predominantly determined by an individual’s appearance. Considering this, as well as binary expectations of gender expression, discrimination against bodies continues to impact many people today (Rodrigues-Shirley 2019, Brum 2017, Eakin 2017). For this reason, it is critical to understand the oppressive aspects of beauty standards rooted in both racial and gender-based discrimination.
Brum, Elaine. 2017. Laerte-Se. Netflix. 1hr 40min. https://www.netflix.com/br-en/title/80142223.
Claro, Rafael Moreira, Maria Aline Siqueira Santos, and Maryane Oliveira-Campos. 2012. “Body image and extreme attitudes toward weight in Brazilian schoolchildren.” Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia 17 (11). Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia 17. https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-4503201400050012.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. “‘Globo-Lizing’ Brazil: Televising Identity,” in Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316800058.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. "The Sounds of Cultural Citizenship," in Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316800058.
Fred. 2022. Tour of Salvador. ICR Brazil. May 11, 2022.
Laus, Maria Fernanda, Idalina Shiraishi Kakeshita, Telma Maria Braga Costa, Maria Elisa Caputo Ferreira, Leonardo de Sousa Fortes, and Sebastião Sousa Almeida. 2014.“Body image in Brazil: recent advances in the state of knowledge and methodological issues.” Revista de saude publica 48, no. 2 (2014): 331-46. doi:10.1590/s0034-8910.2014048004950.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys. 2017. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316888742.
Pravaz, Natasha. 2009. “The Tan from Ipanema: Freyre, Morenidade, and the Cult of the Body in Rio de Janeiro.” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Latino-Américaines et Caraïbes 34, no. 67 (2009): 79–104. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41800448.
Rodrigues-Shirley, Marcela. “Activism is Survival for Brazilian Trans Women.” Ms. August 1, 2019. https://msmagazine.com/2019/08/01/activism-is-survival-for-brazilian-trans-women/.
Julia Krystofiak is going into her senior year at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. She is pursuing a degree in political science and data analytics and hopes to attend graduate school following her undergraduate studies. She is originally from Mounds View, MN. Julia enjoys learning about gendered power structures, international relations, and civil conflict. She has been involved in multiple research projects focusing on gendered and populist rhetoric, which is extremely relevant to Brazil under Bolsonaro. She looks forward to better understanding human impact on the climate and natural world in the context of Brazil!
Miriam Nelson is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict, majoring in environmental studies and political science. She is from Blue Hill, Maine. Miriam is interested in a wide range of topics including international environmental policy, water conflicts, and land trusts. She highly enjoys spending time outside performing backcountry trail work, backpacking, paddleboarding, and birding.
By Ellie Nielsen and Morgan Ebel
Our time in Brazil has only just begun, but already we see the influence schools have on this society. We had a lecture with Cloves Oliveria, a professor from the Federal University of Bahia, who laid out a broad description of Brazil’s education system – primary, secondary, and higher education. We also visited Instituto Cultural Steve Biko and learned the differences of what public versus private schools mean in this country, how their entrance exam works, and how it is structurally racist. In this short recap and reflection, we will cover the history of Brazil’s education system, the current state of their education system and finally what the relationship between race and the education system looks like.
History of the Education System
Brazil has a complicated history when it comes to their education system being that they were colonized by the Portuguese, a western European nation. During the colonial era, which was between the years 1500 and 1822, Portuguese and western culture hosted great power over education in Brazil. Especially in the sense of the Catholic church (McNally 2019). The Jesuit missionaries played an important role in shaping Brazilian society and their schools. They aimed to increase the Portuguese language literacy among Indigenous populations in addition to converting the native population to Catholicism. Enslaved Black people were discriminated against to a greater extent as they were completely excluded from obtaining any form of education (McNally 2019). This power and influence Catholicism has had throughout Brazilian History further connects to the fact that the nation currently has the largest population of Catholic Christians in the world with 61 percent of the total population believing in the faith (McNally 2019). After the Colonial period and when Brazil became an independent nation in 1822, only 10 percent of the school-aged children were enrolled in elementary school (McNally 2019). It was at this time that the nation began initiating an increased control over their primary education system. By 1934, Brazil’s government advanced their constitution and made education a basic right for all Brazilian citizens. Then in 1961, they adopted the first official national education law stating that elementary education would be compulsory until grade eight (McNally 2019). Although this had a significant impact on Brazilian society, the military dictatorship was still in power and proved the continuation of their elitist society by expanding higher education and not putting any focus into developing primary education (Kang 2018, 769). Both Brazil’s government and society has slowly placed more importance and focus on their education throughout their history – despite the governmental situation Brazil has been in the last four years.
Current State of the Education System
Currently, the nation of Brazil is considered a federation made up of 26 states with the self-governing federal district and capital of Brasilia. While the military controlled the government, from the years 1964 to 1985, Brazil experienced an extreme centralized government. But since then, Brazil has continuously worked to decentralize their political system and now possesses a formal decentralized country with strong state governments (McNally 2019). The national government decides education policies for the nation and is responsible for higher education. However, primary, or basic education is administered by state and municipal government entities and proves to have much autonomy within the federal guidelines (McNally 2019). This allows for schools and teachers to adapt their coursework to specific student needs.
Furthermore, the main federal authority for Brazil’s education system is called the National Education Council, an agency of the Ministry of Education. The basic education is comprised of three stages – early childhood education (ages 4-5), elementary education (grades 1-9), and secondary education (grades 10-12). Basic education in Brazil is free at public schools and compulsory which has recently been extended to both early childhood and secondary schooling (McNally 2019). Another added legality is that Brazilian children must now attend two years of early childhood education as well as attend school until the age of 17 – the previous age was 14 (McNally 2019). Additionally, the national curriculum requirement contains mandated courses, but the state and local levels can implement content relevant to society and cultures. The required curriculum includes Portuguese, mathematics, history, geography, arts, natural sciences, physical education and since 2016, English beginning in grade six (McNally 2019). Once students' complete grade nine, they are given a certificate of completion and officially graduate elementary school.
School enrollment and dropout rates have been an ongoing challenge for Brazilian educations and officials. In 2018, 99 percent of eligible first year students across the nation entered first grade. Although dropout rates remained at zero for developed and wealthy states like Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso, and Pernambuco, they increased in states that are considered developing and poorer. Developing states in the north and northeastern parts of the country in particular struggled with high rates of dropout. In the states of Sergipe and Bahia the dropout rates hovered around 76 percent in 2014 and 2015 (McNally 2019). Putting this issue into perspective further, the average years of schooling in Brazilian adults is approximately 7.8 years (Barro 2018, 769). Even though advancements have been made to expand the access of primary education and the youth literacy rate has continued to increase, dropout rates remain high in numerous parts of the nation.
Race Relations in the Education System
Brazil's high school education system is split in to three categories: private school, military school, and public school. Private high schools can be very expensive which is why most students come from wealthier, white families. Private high schools hold better education and have access to many more resources compared to public schools. Public schools, on the other hand, are free for students. Military schools fall somewhat in between the two. However, when it comes to university, these roles are switched, and public schools are much more prestigious than private schools. It is very difficult for students to be accepted to public university, and it is especially difficult for students coming from public high schools. The main priority in all high schools is to focus on studying for the university entrance exams. This exam is similar to the ACT or SAT that we use in the United States, but the stakes are much higher as this is the only thing students can do to be accepted to any university. Because of this, private high schools focus almost all of their three years on studying for this exam. They are taught how to take an exam, as long as any information may be presented. Public high schools however, do not have the resources to prepare their students at the same level. This creates a large divide between exam scores of private and public high school students (Instituto Cultural 2022).
The problem with this system is that many of the students who attend public high schools and struggle more on the university exam are black and brown people. Public universities are largely made up of white students as they also make up most of private high schools. For this reason, schools created a quota system through Affirmative Action. This is a system in which a certain amount of seats are reserved for incoming students which are based on race, income, and whether they went to private or public high school. Each state has a 50% quota that is adjusted on each states census, 50% will go to public school students, and 50% are open. This is a federal law, but not all schools have to follow. For example, Bahia has the largest number of black people in the country and leaves 40% out of the 50% quota for black and brown students (Instituto Cultural 2022). In order to be eligible for the quota, the student must take the entrance exam.
We can see that Brazil as a whole has had many issues with race in the past, and many of them still continue. We look specifically at Brazils education system as we uncover both historic and present facts that prove the system to be racist. Even after the abolishment of slavery, racism and discrimination still heavily continued. Racism has left a lasting imprint on Brazils education systems and students of color are still patronized. School dropout rates are extremely high today in low income areas and students of color are at a very large disadvantage compared to those that are white and/or wealthy. In closing, we have found that the relationship between race and Brazil’s education system is a challenging concept to completely understand as it is evolving, but we are eager to continue learning.
Barro, Robert J. and Jong-Wha Lee “ A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World”
Journal of Development Economics 104 (2013): 184-198.
“Instituto Cultural Steve Biko.” Instituto Cultural Steve Biko. Class lecture at Instituto Cultural
Steve Biko, Salvador, Brazil, May 20, 2022.
Kang, Thomas H. “Education and Development Projects in Brazil, 1932-2004: A Critique.”
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 38, no. 4 (October 2018): 766-80.
McNally, Ryan, Carlos Monroy, and Stefan Trines. “Education in Brazil.” World Education
News and Reviews published November 14, 2019
Morgan Ebel is a sophomore at the College of St. Benedict and the University of St. John’s University. She is originally from Farmington, Minnesota (no, she does not live on a farm). Morgan enjoys reading, working out (yoga, lifting, basketball, etc.) and spending time with her puppy named Teddy.
Morgan is pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in sociology. Hopefully attaining a law degree in the near future.
Ellie Nielsen is a rising junior at CSBSJU. She is a psychology major with a focus in criminal psychology, as well as a political science minor. She and her family are from Farmington, Minnesota. She likes to read, spend time outside, and be surrounded by friends and family.
By Ellie Schmaltz and Clair Moonen
Two blondes, often mistaken for either sisters or the French, have been experiencing Brazil for a little over a week now. While our stay has been short, the lessons and experiences will last a lifetime. We are beginning to understand the importance of global intersectionality and will continue our studies for another two weeks. The topics we’ve faced have almost been as heavy as the plates our mom makes us for dinner.
In Clair’s subtopic gender and elections, we researched the impact of quotas, campaign funding, etc. On the first day in Brazil, we drove past a man on a bus shouting in a megaphone to a crowd. He was running for governor, and I observed only men officials helping with his campaign event. The only women were in the crowd and even then, men outnumbered women. Billboards adorned only male political campaigns, and I only saw one female campaign poster- next to a favela.
Pictured is the political campaign illustrating 2021 findings that, party elites provide female candidates less advantageous candidate identification numbers, less financial support, and less media coverage than male candidates disadvantaging women in politics. Campaign support is power (Jasusz et al. 2021).
This is something that I, Ellie, read about in my subtopic. I read, “Violence against women denies women’s condition as equal subjects and contributes to keeping them subaltern in public life; political violence against women denies women’s condition as equal political actors and contributes to keeping them subaltern in politics, weakening and limiting democracy” (Biroli 2016, 2). In regards to gender, we have seen the implementation of strong gender roles within our household. Our mom is a retired public servant that now hosts American students for Clara Hamos as well as a medical student from rural Brazil. On her “get to know me” form, she listed housework as her hobby. Cooking is especially her favorite. We’ve noticed a trend of mostly women working in the restaurants we’ve been to. There are typically male bartenders, and the people cutting the meat at the tables of the steakhouse were males, as well. Other than that, we typically saw women doing the cooking in the restaurants. We rarely see women walking alone. Even the women that work at the fruit and magazine stands on our walk to ICR are never by themselves. Our mom also briefly explained her divorce with her husband. The reasoning she provided behind the split was the word “controlling''. This can be used in many different contexts, but it reminded me of an article we read in class. In reference to violence against women, it said “The study also reveals the dominance of men over their partner, who must be controlled and monitored daily, considered as natural behavior violating the right to come and go, freedom to express themselves and relate to others, especially with their friends. The female behavior considered inappropriate by the spouses also incites conjugal violence” (Silva 2020, 5). While I am not trying to imply our mom faced any sort of violence from him, the language usage prompted me to reflect on Silva’s article. Domestic violence is typically hidden well, so you can never be sure who we’ve all met or walked past that has faced the issues Silva speaks of. Brazil seems to have the same high domestic violence rates that our Central Minnesota community has as well.
After hearing the word ‘negro’ thrown around so casually a few days in, the racial culture differences started to become more prominent. Our tour guide had mentioned on day two that us Americans have an idea about race as something you try not to speak about, but in Brazil they are trying to teach people that ‘Black is beautiful’. The example he gave was embracing natural hair and features. We see this paralleled in America with social media campaigns especially in the makeup and beauty world embracing African American hair and brands having inclusive color shades. Reflecting the concept that silence is violence and only oppresses people of color further.
What Fred said made us think of why this has only recently been a movement. Pre-departure analysis of Becoming Brazilians touched on the erasure of race in Brazil. “When the Brazilian military removed the ‘color question’ from the 1970 census and then attempted to keep it out of the 1980 census, social scientists protested loudly” (Eakin 2017, p 240). In the same book, Brazilian historian and sociologist Gilberto Freyre argued that in a census the color question wasn’t necessary because Brazillians are beyond racial origins and a singular meta-race. This is interesting because in the United States the government and people made segregation the national identity and culture, not neglection of race.“Black activists argue that the decades of efforts to forge a single, national ‘ethnicity’ a la Freyre has suppressed alternative identities and ethnicities in a form of cultural erasure” (Eakin 2017, p 240). Something as passive as filling in a bubble has the power to diminish people’s identities.
The same negligence of cultural presence in data and recognition we’ve noticed lacks in religion as well. Professor Willys Santos said that religious statistics were inaccurate because in 2020 the current office didn’t conduct a census. Whatever the political motivation, ethically this limits and harms scientists and research without a correct disclosure of data. This absence of precise information has been a common theme in our lectures and workshops, highlighting the need of accurate data and transparency of a government.
Biroli, Flávia. “Political Violence against Women in Brazil: Expressions and Definitions / Violência Política Contra as Mulheres No Brasil: Manifestações E Definições.” Revista Direito e Práxis 7, no. 15 (2016).
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. “The Sounds of Cultural Citizenship.” Chapter. In Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil, 200–219. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316800058.008.
Janusz, Andrew, Sofi-Nicole Barreiro, and Erika Cintron. “Political Parties and Campaign Resource Allocation: Gender Gaps in Brazilian Elections.” Political Party, April 18, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/13540688211018424.
Silva, Andrey Ferreira da, Nadirline Pereira Gomes, Júlia Renata Fernandes de Magalhães, Fernanda Matheus Estrela, Anderson Reis de Sousa, Jordana Brock Carneiro. 2020. “Social Attributes of the Male That Suscept the Violence by Intimate Partner.” Rev Bras Enferm 73, no. 6 (Summer): 1-7.
Eliana (Ellie) Schmaltz is a rising junior at the College of Saint Benedict. She is pursuing a degree in political science and sociology in the hopes to attend law school after graduation. After law school, she would like to be a family lawyer and give back to the community that raised her. Ellie is originally from a small town called Eden Valley located in Central Minnesota. She looks forward to learning more about Brazilian culture and experiencing everything the scenic country has to offer while studying abroad in Salvador.
Clair Moonen is a rising Junior at the College of Saint Benedict Saint Johns University. Majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track with a minor in communications. She is from Delano, Minnesota. Clair is women’s empowerment chair of the service sorority, Academic Affairs Representative on the student Senate and enjoys being involved on campus regarding student relations. When not studying in Alcuin Library, she is the goalie on the lacrosse team. She looks forward to experiencing another culture and political system while abroad in Brazil.
By Kate McGlinch
Though I have learned so much in exploring Salvador, Brazil and attending the lectures, I found my experience in the Emergency Room here especially intriguing. On May 18th, I had developed some concerning symptoms and was taken to Hospital Português by my professor. This is a private hospital though it seems to operate more largely as a Catholic nonprofit organization. Brazil’s healthcare is a combination of public and private healthcare systems. While I went to a private hospital where I paid a bill at the end of my time there, I also had the option (even as a foreigner) to be seen by doctors for free. I was broadly aware of this situation as our class was visited by Professor Clarice Mota who had explained how healthcare in Brazil works prior to our trip. According to her presentation, public healthcare has been provided to all Brazilian citizens as well as foreigners since the implementation of Sistema Único da Saúde (SUS) in the late 1980s. Though access to efficient and effective healthcare is not necessarily equitable, every citizen is entitled to the same right to healthcare today (Mota, 2022).
My experience of Hospital Português was good; It took no more than 30 minutes between my arrival to the emergency room and my blood being drawn. The waiting rooms were quiet and calm, the nurses did not seem incredibly stressed or overworked, and I was treated with professionalism. Having gone to the emergency room in the United States earlier this year, I was surprised by the contrast in experiences. In February, I was in a car crash that left me with a lot of head and neck pain. I had considered taking an ambulance to the ER as I found driving to be difficult, but the cost for a 20 minute ambulance ride would have been more than the amount I paid for the entirety of my time and service at Hospital Português (even relative to Brazilian reals). I went to the ER at St. Cloud Hospital, also a Catholic-affiliated nonprofit institution. Though my vitals were taken after about 30 minutes, I was sent back out to the waiting room until I could be seen by a physician. 5 hours later, there was still no movement, people in similar positions to myself were anxiously checking their watches. I went home and took as much Ibuprofen as possible.
Though Brazil’s investment in public access to healthcare is impressive compared to the United States’ marginal attempts at something similar through Medicare or Medicaid, there have been some noteworthy issues. As mentioned before, though everyone has a right to healthcare in Brazil, the amount of ease with which different individuals can access it varies quite a bit. Since Brazil is a very large country, one of the factors contributing to inequality in access and efficacy of healthcare is geography. An article by KPMG points out that “there are huge challenges in providing quality healthcare to all Brazil's 209 million citizens. The south-east around Rio de Janeiro is relatively prosperous while much of the north of the country is far poorer in terms of education, economic output and access to care. Maternal mortality rates are significantly higher in the north-east” (Greca and Fitzgerald, 2022). Though my experience of a hospital in Salvador was positive, I feel the fact that I was being cared for in a private hospital that doesn’t rely as heavily on government funding and maintenance may have contributed quite a bit to my perspective. Furthermore, these private hospitals seem to be receiving more funding from the government than needed, essentially depriving the public sector of needed financial resources. The Journal of Global Health has noted that the financial base of Brazil’s healthcare system “has resulted in a situation where less than 30% of Brazilians who continue to use private health insurance and facilities constitute more than 50% of the total health care expenditure in Brazil …the legacies of the previous discriminatory health care system are still in operation and the constitutional principle of universality is yet to be realized in practice” (Muzaka, 2017). These inequalities in funding manifest especially in the quality of care for black Brazilians as structural racism assures that the majority of these people are in the lower class and have no other options than SUS and public hospitals for healthcare (Constante, Marino and Bastos, 2021). My experience as a white foreigner in a private hospital, especially in the northeast region of Brazil, was likely not common to the usual experience here. Nevertheless, I found it interesting to observe the private healthcare system here in Brazil and compare my experience with those that I have had in the U.S..
Mota, Clarice. “Social Inequities in Brazil: Effects and Outcomes in Life and Health Conditions.” Lecture, College of St. Benedict and Saint John’s University, St. Joseph, MN, April 12, 2022.
Greca, Daniel and Edward Fitzgerald. 2022. “Healthcare in Brazil: Meeting Future Challenges.” KPMG. Retrieved from https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2019/04/meeting-healthcare-challenges-in-brazil.html.
Muzaka, Valbona. 2017. “Lessons From Brazil: On the Difficulties of Building a Universal Healthcare System.” Journal of Global Health 7, no. 1 (June). 10.7189/jogh.07.010303.
Constante, Helena Mendes, Gerson Luiz Marinho, and João Luiz Bastos. 2021. “The Door is Open, But Not Everyone May Enter: Racial Inequities in Healthcare Access Across Three Brazilian Surveys.” Ciência Saúde Coletiva 26, no. 9 (September). https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232021269.47412020.
Kate McGlinch is a sophomore at CSB/SJU with a major in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy. She is from St. Paul, Minnesota. Her academic interests include justice and reformation in politics as well as policy for social issues. She looks forward to understanding Brazilian politics and culture in a more holistic way while studying abroad.