Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Brazil Initiative

Challenges to Brazilian Democracy Conference – Day 2

Friday, April 19, 2019

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

The recent election of Jair Bolsonaro to the Brazilian presidency has raised new questions about the state of democracy in Brazil. Are his campaign promises to criminalize social movements, stop the demarcation of indigenous lands, and eliminate opposition political parties merely electoral rhetoric? What does increased deforestation of the Amazon and other sensitive ecological zones mean for the environment? What is the fate of academic and cultural freedom under a new government whose supporters speak, among other questions, against “gender ideology” and “political correctness,” which can be read as veiled critiques of the women’s and the LGBTQI+ movements and the ideas of progressive social sectors? Will new gun policies result in more deaths in rural and urban areas, and particularly among people of African and indigenous descent? To what extent are human rights, especially among low-income citizens, under threat? This international conference, organized jointly with colleagues from Harvard University, will bring together scholars and social and cultural activists to analyze the current situation in Brazil and assess these and other threats to democracy posed by President Bolsonaro’s far-right agenda. At the Conference, we will also launch the US Observatory for Democracy in Brazil, an English-language website documenting recent events in the country, and have a strategic discussion about how U.S.-based academics and activists can defend democracy in Brazil.

9:30-10:00                   Light breakfast

10:00-12:00                 Panel I: The Political Context in Brazil Today

Chair: Bruno Carvalho, cultural historian, Harvard University

  • Celso Rocha de Barros, journalist, Folha de São Paulo
  • Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, sociologist, University of South Florida
  • Marlon Weichert, Deputy Federal Attorney for Citizen’s Rights

12:00-1:30                   Lunch

1:30-3:30                     Panel II: Cultural Resistance and Academic Freedom

                                    Chair: Leiha Lehnen, literary scholar, Brown University

  • MC Carol, singer/songwriter
  • Guest TBD
  • Sidney Chalhoub, historian, Harvard University 

3:30-4:00                     Coffee break

4:00-6:00                     Panel III: Religion, Ethnicity and the Brazilian State

                                    Chair: Geri Augusto, public policy, Brown University

  • Erisvaldo Santos, pai de santo, educator, Federal Univ. of Ouro Preto
  • TBA, indigenous leader and activist
  • Michel Gherman, historian, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Conference Organizing Committee: James N. Green (chair), Geri Augusto, Bruno Carvalho, Sidney Chalhoub, Keisha-Khan Perry, Leila Lehnen, Ramon Stern, Leah VanWey

Sponsors: Brazil Initiative (Brown), Open Society Foundations, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research (Harvard), Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs (Brown), Cogut Institute for the Humanities (Brown), Department of History (Brown), Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies (Brown), Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (Brown), Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (Brown),  Africana Studies (Brown), Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (Brown).