Our first week in Brazil has been a complete whirlwind. We’ve had the opportunity to try delicious Brazilian and international foods. We’ve heard from passionate and inspiring lecturers working in different fields related to history and Indigenous Rights. We’ve been to a few museums to get a glimpse of elements of Brazil’s immigration and Afro-Brazilian past. We saw beautiful street art and wandered through markets in different neighbourhoods. We even had a chance to go to a rehearsal for Carnival, listening to incredible music and joining in the dancing.
The dynamic mix of cultures, celebration and resistance has been on my mind since arriving. This came to the forefront while visiting the Afro-Brazilian Museum. Our lovely guide, Sydney, showed us a work by Heitor Dos Prazeres. The defiant act of holding your head high, sharing music with your community and wearing the shoes that were forbidden during slavery depicted in this painting gave me a deeper appreciation of music, dance and celebration.
I also reflected on this during our lecture on Indigenous Rights and Movements by Denizom Oliveira. Denizom offered insights into the struggle faced by many of Brazil’s Indigenous peoples, who have endured five centuries of colonisation. Among many things, he spoke of the importance of resistance and memory – the significance of knowing our past to orient ourselves towards justice so that we do not repeat previous mistakes.
Looking at the rest of our trip, I will try to hold these elements in mind. I hope to reflect on the hardships that have been and those that are still ongoing. I also hope to engage in celebration, both for the joy itself but also because I have come to believe it can represent a powerful act of resistance and force for change.