King’s College debates Brazil

brasilobserver - Feb 05 2016
270116 27th January 2016 KCL Brazil Week Equality and the City Event Lucas Theatre, The Strand Campus
Photo: Nathan Clarke

(Leia em Português)


Brazil was in evidence in the last week of January at King’s College London. Organized by the Brazil Institute, the Brazil Week celebrated the country with a series of cultural events and debates. An evidence of the relevance of Brazilian studies in the UK, it was also an opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds interested in Brazil.

The Brasil Observer was present in two of the week’s events; the opening reception, on Monday January 25th and in the session devoted to discussion of the right to the city in Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday 27th.

At the first, the highlight was the sociologist José de Souza Martins, professor at the University of São Paulo. Third Brazilian – after Celso Furtado and Fernando Henrique Cardoso – to occupy, in 1993-1994, the prestigious Simon Bolivar Chair at the University of Cambridge, Martins spoke briefly but emphatically on the current political situation in Brazil.

The current crisis, according to the professor, it is not a crisis of the ruling PT (Workers Party), but of Brazil’s political system, “less and less representative of the Brazilian people.” For him, the current system does not allow any trace of democratic innovation as it is dominated by economic power, and the polarization between PT and the biggest opposition party PSDB does not explain the current political crisis.

The sociologist launches this month another book, Do PT das Lutas Sociais ao PT do Poder (From PT’s Social Struggle to PT’s Power), in which he asks: is the PT that fought on the streets and factory doors, preaching ethics and social justice, the same party in power for over a decade?

In the second event in which the Brasil Observer was present, entitled “Equality & the City: Discrimination, Cultural Identity and Street Art in Rio de Janeiro”, it was screened the documentary Memórias do Cais do Valongo.

Directed by Antonio Carlos Muricy and Carlos Alexandre Teixeira, the latter present at the event, the film tells the story of Valongo Pier in the port area of ​​Rio, known in the 19th century as “Little Africa”, an expression used by the painter and samba composer Heitor dos Prazeres.

Besides Teixeira, the post-film discussion included the Transnational Law teacher at King’s College Dr. Octavio Ferraz, the rapper and activist MC Leonardo and musician and writer Delcio Teobaldo. They all talked about the importance of Brazil facing its past, particularly slavery, to understand the inequalities of the present; the need to promote popular culture in Brazil; and the contradictions of Rio’s revitalization ahead the Olympic Games, which have accentuated an existing gentrification process.

Originally published in the Brasil Observer edition 35