Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context

The Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context project invites paper proposals from scholars from all disciplines and career stages for its first workshop to be held at the University of Birmingham (UK) on 31 May and 1 June 2018.

‘Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context’ is an interdisciplinary project aimed at furthering comparative understandings of regionalism in Brazil. The project seeks to create an international, multidisciplinary network of academics researching the many social, cultural, and economic aspects of regionalism and how they intersect with both nationalism and globalisation. The project will examine the mechanisms that support regionalism, such as the construction of historical narratives and folklore; the creation of regionalised statistical or economic analysis; or the projection of regions within international relations. Ultimately, the project seeks to foment a conversation about what scholars working on regionalism elsewhere can learn from Brazil and vice versa (please see full project description below).

Please submit a title, 250 word abstract (in English, Spanish, or Portuguese), and 2-page CV to Dr. Courtney J. Campbell (c.j.campbell@bham.ac.uk) by 31 October 2017. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how they relate to the broader goals of the project.

** While this call for papers is for the initial workshop in Birmingham, there will be a second funded workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (USA) in Autumn 2018. Participation in the first workshop does not guarantee an invitation to the second nor inclusion in the resulting publication.**

The project is funded by the Birmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery, Engagement and Education (BRIDGE), with support from the Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures (BRIHC), allowing us to cover the costs of food and lodging for presenting participants, along with limited travel support.

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Project description

The division of nation-states into administrative regions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries privileged scientific observation over other considerations. In Brazil, regional boundaries initially depended primarily on geography and climate.  However, over time, regional difference came to be understood in terms of race, culture, and economic development. Defining Brazil’s regions was at times a carefully meditated project, as in the country’s Northeast and the state of Rio Grande do Sul.  At others, it was a side product of debates about language, indigenous populations, the role of women in the economic life, or even football. Today, Brazil’s regions are so well-defined that they seem self-justifying: one might say that São Paulo is more industrialized because it is São Paulo, or that the Northeast is more rustic/less developed because it is the Northeast, unconsciously selecting (or ignoring) historical data in support of the seemingly obvious argument. In the thirteenth most unequal country in the world (with a Gini coefficient of 52.87 as of 2013), region becomes yet another token for justifying social inequalities.

Several recent articles and book-length monographs have addressed regionalism in Brazil, usually focusing on one region as a case study. Both principal investigators of this project are at the forefront of the nascent regionalist turn in Brazilian Studies—Dr. Courtney J. Campbell on the Brazilian Northeast and international cultural events; Dr. Glen Goodman on migration to and from Brazil’s South. ‘Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context’ aims to unite these disparate studies to examine Brazil’s regions as interconnected and mutually constitutive. Furthermore, ‘Brazilian Regionalism in a Global Context’ urges scholars to consider the region’s interactions with the world beyond Brazil’s borders. In this way, instead of considering Brazil’s regions as isolated and insular, our project emphasises that regional identities, cultures, and even politics were developed through their engagement with the nation and the world.

Our project includes two workshops on Brazilian regionalism: the first workshop at University of Birmingham in May 2018; the second at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the autumn of 2018. These workshops will lead to an edited book volume or dedicated journal issue on Brazilian regionalism. The project includes total or partial funding for a full range of international scholars, from graduate students to professors, from Brazil, the US, and the UK. In this way, our project encourages transatlantic mobility, an enhanced student experience, and international research collaboration. The purpose of the workshops is twofold: to develop a framework for thinking about Brazil in regions, identifying patterns, purpose, and methodologies of study; and to apply these findings beyond Brazil, to a wider discussion of regionalism as a worldwide phenomenon.