AAS 104 - First Year Humanities Seminar
Section: 001 Brazil, Country of the Present
Term: FA 2011
Subject: Afroamerican & African Studies (AAS)
Department: LSA Afroamerican and African Studies
Course Note:
This seminar introduces first-year students to the intellectual community of humanities scholars working in the field of Afroamerican and African studies. The topic of the seminar varies from year to year.
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
Other Course Info:
(Cross-Area Courses). May not be included in a concentration plan.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Why should American students take a course on Brazil? Brazil is more than the common stereotypes associated with lush tropical beaches, the awe-inspiring yet critical Amazon rainforest, glamorous Carnaval pageantry, sensuous mulattas, or world famous soccer players. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America; a Portuguese-speaking nation that is becoming a major global player due to population size, land mass and economic output (on all counts, among the largest in the world). From an agricultural standpoint, Brazil has become a world power, surpassing the United States in soybean production and exports, which are crucial to the Midwest. On the world diplomatic stage, Brazil is a strong advocate for the countries of the South as they clamor for a greater voice in the context of contemporary globalization. Given Latin America's proximity to the United States and its importance from a geostrategic, economic, political, and cultural viewpoint, it is important that American citizens become acquainted with Brazil. This course offers an introduction to Brazilian culture as well as key historical and socio-political issues from 1500 until the early twenty-first century. We will approach Brazil from a comparative perspective, making relevant connections to Africa, Europe, the U.S., and Spanish-speaking Latin America. In fact, one third of the course will be dedicated to a comparative study of "race" and race relations in Brazil, the United States, and South Africa.

Critics and scholars have invariably described Brazil as a "racial democracy" or as "the borderlands of the Western world" or as "a space in-between," emphasizing the fact that Brazilian culture (or for that matter, Latin American cultures in general) cannot be defined in terms of "unity" or "purity," since they are neither entirely European nor African nor Amerindian. Some point out that Brazil may mirror to an extent what the United States will look like in the course of the twenty-first century. Throughout this course, we shall reflect upon these questions and look closely at these various characterizations of Brazil so that we can understand the forces that have shaped this national reality through time, and reflect upon its prospects for the future. The following will be the thematic areas covered:

  • the roots of Brazil; national identity formation
  • class relations, the Amazon region, the construction of race and ethnicity in Brazilian culture
  • comparative perspectives on race in Brazil, the United States, and South Africa
  • modernity and modernization
  • the struggles for democracy and socio-economic justice.

All readings will be in English covering several disciplines such as history, anthropology, sociology, and political science that engage with the issues described so far. Readings will be complemented by film screenings, featuring critically acclaimed Brazilian feature films as well as documentaries.

Course Requirements:

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Intended Audience:

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Class Format:

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AAS 104 - First Year Humanities Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: Brazil, Country of the Present
003 (SEM)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

There will be a course packet. More details will be posted soon.
ISBN: 0230618871
Brazil on the rise : the story of a country transformed, Author: Rohter, Larry, 1950-, Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan 2010
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