Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context

April 26 & 27, 2019
Alice Campbell Alumni Center

The division of nation-states into administrative regions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries privileged scientific observation over other considerations. In Brazil, regional boundaries initially depended primarily on geography and climate.  However, over time, regional difference came to be understood in terms of race, culture, and economic development. Defining Brazil’s regions was at times a carefully meditated project, as in the country’s Northeast and the state of Rio Grande do Sul.  At others, it was a side product of debates about language, indigenous populations, the role of women in economic life, or even football. Today, Brazil’s regions are so well-defined that they seem self-justifying: one might say that São Paulo is more industrialized because it is São Paulo, or that the Northeast is more rustic/less developed because it is the Northeast, unconsciously selecting (or ignoring) historical data in support of the seemingly obvious argument. In the thirteenth most unequal country in the world (with a Gini coefficient of 52.87 as of 2013), region becomes yet another token for justifying social inequalities.

Several recent articles and book-length monographs have addressed regionalism in Brazil, usually focusing on one region as a case study. Both principal investigators of this project are at the forefront of the nascent regionalist turn in Brazilian Studies—Dr. Courtney J. Campbell on the Brazilian Northeast and international cultural events; Dr. Glen Goodman on migration to and from Brazil’s South. ‘Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context’ aims to unite these disparate studies to examine Brazil’s regions as interconnected and mutually constitutive. Furthermore, ‘Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context’ urges scholars to consider the region’s interactions with the world beyond Brazil’s borders. In this way, instead of considering Brazil’s regions as isolated and insular, our project emphasizes that regional identities, cultures, and even politics were developed through their engagement with the nation and the world.

Our project includes two workshops on Brazilian regionalism: the first workshop at University of Birmingham and the second at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These workshops will lead to an edited book volume or dedicated journal issue on Brazilian regionalism. The purpose of the workshops is twofold: to develop a framework for thinking about Brazil in regions, identifying patterns, purpose, and methodologies of study; and to apply these findings beyond Brazil, to a wider discussion of regionalism as a worldwide phenomenon.

Please register here by April 15.


Friday, April 26 –

8:30-9:00 – Breakfast

9:00-9:30 –Welcome/Introduction

9:30-11:00 – Session 1 – Race and Identity in the Global Amazon

Kerri Brown (Southern Methodist University): “Blackness in the Amazon: The Role of Othered Regionalism in the Construction of Political Rights”

Michele Nascimento (New York University): “Regionalism in the Amazon: The Global Paths of the Milton Hatoum’s Narrative”

Comment: Andrew Britt (Northwestern University)

11:00-11:15 – Coffee Break

11:15-12:45 – Session 2 –

Regional, National, and International Cultural Policy

Laura Cade Brown (Brandeis University): “Building Vila Sésamo: Children’s Television and the Race Across the Nation”

Glauber de Lima (Federal University of Goiás / Loughborough University, London): “Multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and regionalism: the revised “Northeast” of The Museum of the Northeast Man – MUHNE.”

Comment: Ericka Edwards (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)

12:45-2:00 – Lunch

2:00-3:30 – Session 3 – Local Culture, Transnational Folklore

Francisco Fermino Sales Neto (Federal University of Campina Grande / Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte): “Brazilian Regionalism in a Universal Master Plan: The Brazilian Society of Folklore and the Internationalization of Folkloric Studies in Brazil in the Middle of the 20th Century”

Anadelia Romo (Texas State University): “A Pan-American Local Artist: Carybé and the International Roots of Bahian Modernism”

Comment: Marc Hertzman (University of Illinois)

3:30-4:00 – Coffee Break

4:00-5:30 – Plenary

Barbara Weinstein (New York University): “Regional Resentment as an Idiom of Illiberal Politics: Paulista Exceptionalism in Global Perspective”

Saturday, April 27

8:30-9:15 – Breakfast

9:15-11:30 – Session 4 — Agriculture, Development, and Migration

Frederik Schulze (Westphalian Wilhelms University, Münster): “Development and Resistance in Pará during the Brazilian Dictatorship. A Regional Perspective within a Global-National Framework”

André Kobayashi Deckrow (Columbia University): “After the Quotas: The Japanese Community and the Shortage of Agricultural Labor in the State of São Paulo”

Gillian McGillivray (York University, Toronto): “Commodity Counterpoint: Sugar Producers in Rio, the Northeast and São Paulo in the Age of Coffee, 1889-1945”

Comment: Jerry Dávila (University of Illinois)

11:30-11:45 – Coffee Break

11:45-1:00 – Round Table

Durval Muniz de Albuquerque (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte)

Ruben Oliven (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)

1:00-2:30 – Lunch and Closing Remarks

With support from:

  • Birmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery, Engagement and Education (BRIDGE)
  • The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies
  • The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • The School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics
  • The Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • The University of Illinois Library

Conference Organizers:

  • Glen Goodman (University of Illinois)
  • Courtney Campbell (University of Birmingham, UK)

Please register here, before April 15th.