Conference report: The 22s: Brazilian Cultural Entanglements, Then and Now (V International Conference of REBRAC)

In October 2022, REBRAC (the European Network of Brazilianists Working in Cultural Analysis) held its fifth international conference, hosted by the University of Leeds in the UK. The event took place on a hybrid basis at the Carriageworks Theatre in central Leeds, and was generously supported by the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI) and School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds, the Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS), and the Association of Lusitanists of Britain and Ireland (ABIL).

From the vantage point of a key year combining the bicentenary of Brazil’s independence from Portugal and the centenary of the Modern Art Week in São Paulo, as well as a general election, the conference theme addressed and critically interrogated the significance of 2022 in the Brazilian cultural calendar and arena, inviting reflection on how Brazilian cultural studies can respond critically and productively to past and present entanglements of culture and politics, and/or culture and history/memory.

The rich and full programme for the event included a transnational hybrid keynote colloquy on day 1, bringing together presentations by two leading scholars of Brazilian culture. Florencia Garramuño from Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina), spoke on ‘Contemporâneo ou cosmopolítico? Práticas estéticas ameríndias e cultura brasileira contemporânea’, followed by Peter W Schulze from Universität zu Köln (Germany), whose topic was ‘Apropriações da antropofagia: um conceito modernista e suas reverberações na cultura brasileira contemporânea’.

On day 2, Adilson Moreira (Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Brazil), author of the book Racismo Recreativo, delivered a keynote talk from São Paulo on ‘Recreational Racism, Friendly Sexism and Emotional Work: Afro-Brazilian Women in Corporate Space’, and artist Flávio Cerqueira participated in a Q and A via video link, in conversation with Sheila Aragão.

Conference panel sessions covered a diverse and timely range of topics, ranging from ‘Alternate (digital) modernisms’, ‘Modernism on film’, ‘Modernism and the city’, to ‘Formação nacional’, ‘Diaspora and transnational migrations’, and ‘Audiovisual production and politics’. There were also two sessions headed ‘Decolonising in practice’, as well as a pre-composed panel on ‘Decolonising perspectives on marginalized identities’.

Alongside the keynote speakers from Argentina and Germany already mentioned, participating speakers were affiliated with institutions in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK), as well as a sizeable contingent from Brazilian universities. Those joining the audience in person in Leeds or online via Zoom were also from both Europe and Brazil. One presenter who travelled from Brazil to attend the event in person, with the support of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI), Alessandra Simões Paiva (Universidade Federal do Sul da Bahia), produced this write-up of her trip, including the REBRAC conference, in Portuguese.

Despite some technical difficulties associated with the hybrid nature of the conference, the event was a resounding success, supporting energising and stimulating discussions about Brazilian cultural production past and present from a variety of perspectives, and, in line with REBRAC’s aims, providing a space for networking and the exchange of ideas by established, early career, and postgraduate early career scholars, in an atmosphere of conviviality and mutual support.

Conference Organisers (L to R in right-hand photo)
Inês Dias (University of Leeds, England)
Sheila Aragão (Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Brazil)
Sara Brandellero (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)
Stephanie Dennison (University of Leeds, England)
Tori Holmes (Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland)


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