Brazil academics gather for 1st major conference in London

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More than 800 experts on all matters Brazilian have convened at King’s College London this week for what is thought to be largest ever such conference of its type.

The 12th annual congress of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) is richly interdisciplinary, embracing cultural studies, the Portuguese language, film studies, musicology, history, comparative literature, political science, sociology, international relations, and economics.  The three day conference will discuss a wide range on subjects from urban development to sexual behaviour on more than 150 different panels.

The hosting at King’s is only the second occasion in BRASA’s 22 year history when the conference has been held outside Brazil or the United States.

One of the hottest topics will be the current campaigns for the Presidential elections in Brazil and Friday’s event will see a debate and plenary session.

The conclusion of the conference will also see political scientist and the Director of the King’s Brazil Institute, Dr Anthony Pereira, take over the reins of the Presidency of BRASA until 2016.

The start of the conference at the Strand was opened with words from King’s Vice Principal (Arts & Sciences) Professor Evelyn Welch, Brazilian Ambassador to Great Britain His Excellency Roberto Jaguaribe and incumbent BRASA President Jan French.

 BRASA-group-shot

BRASA President Jan French, Anthony Pereira, Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe

& Evelyn Welch.

 'As exuberant as Brazil'

Of the three days of analysis of and debate Professor Welch said: ‘Understanding such a large, complicated, and – in some ways – enigmatic country is never easy. But we hope that this conference will be as diverse, dynamic, changeable, exciting, and exuberant as Brazil itself. 

‘BRASA is a unique association that brings the humanities and social sciences together in pursuit of answers to common questions. This is the interdisciplinary spirit that we bring to academic research at King’s, where many departments contain mixtures of academics with social science and humanities backgrounds. BRASA is also intensely engaged with pressing cultural, social, political, ethical, and economic issues affecting Brazil.’

She pointed out the raft of King’s agreements with Brazilian universities and the recentl opened King’s office in Sao Paulo, an office that will be officially inaugurated later this year and the ground-breaking work, courses and partnerships of King’s Brazil Institute.

Professor Welch said the Institute ‘could not imagine a better neighbour, supporter and friend’ of its work than Ambassador Jaguaribe.

She said in some ways Mr Jaguaribe personifies the themes of the conference – ‘of the “new Brazil”, a Brazil that engages with partners on many issues at a global level, and is no longer simply a giant in South America and nowhere else. It is striking that the study of Brazil has become a global activity.’

The conference also included Musical performance by Antonio Nobrega, a popular musician, composer, and actor from Recife in Brazil's northeast. A lifetime contribution award was presented to anthropologist Maxine Margolis for her important work on the Brazilian emigrant community.

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