Leiden International Studies Blog

The Aesthetics of Resistance in the Afro-Brazilian Diaspora

The Aesthetics of Resistance in the Afro-Brazilian Diaspora

On 20 November, BA IS hosted an event connected to the 2018 Brazil Week, which, since it was first set up by Sara Brandellero and Marianne Wiesebron in 2013, has been organized for six years now by staff and students working in Brazilian Studies in the Latin American Programme at Leiden.

Our collaboration as researchers at LUCAS and experience as lecturers at International Studies inspired us to bring the Brazil Week to International Studies for the first time. We were very honoured to have with us Minister-Counsellor Leonardo Luís Fernandes, representing Her Excellency Ambassador of Brazil Regina Dunlop, accompanied by Cultural Attaché Luís Otávio Ortigão and Chancellery Official Clarice Bourguignon.

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Representative of the Embassy of Brazil

The yearly Brazil Week – supported by the Humanize Institute and the Embassy of Brazil – includes academic and cultural activities promoting the diverse and fascinating culture of Brazil and the scholarship that takes place across Leiden. We were delighted to be hosting our first event in the Hague, within plans to broaden the scope of activities to include different programmes within our Faculty of Humanities and also other faculties, where many researchers work on Brazil (in archaelogy, computer science, medicine, to name a few).

Thanks to the support of the Embassy of Brazil in the Hague, we were very fortunate to have with us Professor Gilberto Alexandre Sobrinho, professor of Television, Vídeo and Cinema studies at Unicamp (Brazil). Prof. Sobrinho teaches and has published extensively on questions of authorship, the relationship between different media and politics, and identity representations, focusing especially on questions of race. He is also a filmmaker and recently completed a Black Trilogy, on black identities and cultures in Brazil. The screening of his short documentary The Rainbow House Woman (2017) gave us some insight into the fascinating Afro-Brazilian cultures and religions of Brazil. This short was premiered at the Leeds Film Festival (UK), in 2017 and won the popular jury prize at the International Shorts Festival in São Paulo and has been since screened at various festivals. Its premiere in the Netherlands took place precisely on the 20th of November in Wijnhaven. The date of 20th of November is celebrated in Brazil as the day of Black Consciousness, and the screening of this documentary on an Afro-Brazilian community and little-known but noteworthy Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion) group in São Paulo state was therefore all the more topical.

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Prof. Gilberto Sobrinho

We thank Prof. Sobrinho for accepting the invitation to speak about his work at Leiden, bracing these arctic temperatures! Prof Sobrinho gave an insightful introduction into Afro-Brazilian practices and history of resistance in a country where, despite a black majority – Brazil (population of around 220 million) being the largest black country outside of Africa – Afro-Brazilians still suffer widespread prejudice and violence. His documentary illustrated the power of cultural memory, sense of community, religion, cultural practices and tollerance as important tools for resistance, survival and wellbeing. After his presentation and screening, Prof. Sobrinho answered many questions from the audience who engaged in a lively dialogue on politics of representation and resistance. The event was followed by a drinks reception, generously provided by International Studies.

We wish to thank the Embassy of Brazil in the Hague, the Programme Board and coordination of International Studies, and in particular Dr Paula Jordão, Stans Willemsen and Marritt Terpstra for the wonderful support in the organization of this event.