5 references about Brazil with Z

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Hey people! Actually, my English-speakers friends. This is Pitacodemia, a new project who aims to share knowledge through lists on internet. Well how dos it works? We receive contributions (by anyone) about any subjetc or theme, with references (5 to 10) which means ANY kind of these: books, articles, documentaries, movies, music, people.

The main goal of Pitacodemia is to share knowledge and makes people get more access in references they might get interested.

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The site is originally from Brazil, and, because of it, it’s almost entirely in Portuguese. Until now… We release our first post in English, and we must say that for now we also accept contributions in English. We are still “small” (because of it we can’t afford an entire site in English yet.. we sorry for that), but we hope soon you’ll be able to access Pitacodemia in both languages.

So please send to us your contribution: contribuicao@pitacodemia.com, and we will publish it ;)

Oh, one more thing: “Pitaco” is a Portuguese slang means “Tip“, i.e., an informal suggestion you give to someone who needs to learn more about some subject or just get more in touch with it. So, our site is an Academy of Tips, if you get the idea ;)

Well, as our first post in English, we will talk about Brasil. Oh, actually, Brazil with Z. As we are hosting the World Cup, we can imagine that there’re a ot of English-speakers interested in getting more references about this amazing country. We made a first post (in Portuguese) about Brasil With S, and now we get the “other side of it”, which was made by Chris Bailey, a Californian guy who lives in Brazil (and kind of like it).

So, now we let the words with Chris, who is talking about refereces to know deeper about Brazil With Z. Enjoy it! “Bons Pitacos!”

 

Most US-Americans hold many misconceptions about Brazil — the land of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and favelas plus the Amazon jungle — with the population either speaking Spanish, or perhaps, sharing the South American continent and Portuguese language with Portugal? My first impression of Brazil was a little different, reading in elementary school about the construction of the retro-modernist capital Brasília and how Brazil was trying to be “the country of the future” — a once optimistic quote that was then amended with more pessimistic “… and always will be.”

I’ve now lived in Brazil for two years (arriving in June 2012) — but spent almost a year and a half between first considering the idea and actually getting on a plane from California to visit. My life had been disrupted by the ongoing economic crisis, and I was considering trying my luck in another country after earlier completing a master’s degree in international relations. I was intrigued by doing something with the Portuguese-speaking countries or Eastern Europe. Brazil was at the top of my list — but I read several both positive (rapidly developing democracy, tens of millions joining the middle class, very friendly people) and negative (crime, taxes, corruption, bureaucracy) points about the country. In the end the positives won out, and I’m still here.

The following selection represents a list of “Brazil” as how Americans or other international visitors may imagine it, based upon books or articles they would likely consult before a trip to the country. They all have biases or inaccurate facts that could trouble Brazilians — yet also serve to inform international opinion of the country.

Let’s check the “pitacos”:

1) Lonely Planet Brazil, 9th edition (2013) Regis St Louis, Gary Chandler, Gregor Clark, Bridget Gleeson, John Noble, Kevin Raub, Paul Smith.

Lonely Planet travel books dominate the market despite their frequent errors, omissions, and failure to fully update new editions. Travel books are a necessary evil, as TripAdvisor and Wikitravel are just as easily problematic and not easily accessible in all environments. The Lonely Planet Brazil guide has been translated into Spanish, French, German, and even to Brazilian Portuguese by Globo. From my own travel experience, around 75% of visitors to Brazil actually use this book, giving it not only dominant access to this market and the “Brazil” it reports on, but perhaps the ability to affect the reality it attempts to describe. Which restaurants and hotels are covered, and which are omitted? As book publishing costs continue to increase, each new edition tends to shrink. Every new point of interest included might mean the elimination of two old ones. Trying to fit a country the size of the United States into one 736 page book means many cities are not covered at all. In the Sao Paulo chapter, sections on Campos do Jordão, Guarujá, and Paranapiacaba were significantly reduced between the 2010 and 2013 editions. Tourists “in the field” trying to make quick decisions will just glance at a guidebook and try to find something okay instead of trying to load slow, clunky, and bloated mobile versions of TripAdvisor, checking out the entire list of accommodation options on Hostel World or Booking.com, or trying Airbnb for just a night. Brazilians might be interesting in seeing how their city is covered (or not) and if their favorite restaurant in a tourist destination might suddenly have a massive increase of international tourists in attendance.

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2) Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed (2010; 2012) Larry Rohter.

Rohter served as Brazil’s New York Times correspondent in the 1970’s and again in the early 2000’s, as well as marrying a Brazilian. Initially published in 2010, the book reflects a time period when internationally Brazil’s economy was perceived to be booming and beginning to be “on people’s radar.” After the obligatory first chapter trying to fit 500 years of Brazilian history into 20 pages, the author focuses on different facets of Brazil and how each have changed (culture, race relations, the Amazon, agriculture, industry, etc). Someone coming to Brazil on a business assignment for example might pick up this book before and read it on the plane ride, learning about everything from the jeitinho and bureaucracy to African religions and telenovelas. The book is very accessible to someone wanting an easy to digest introduction to Brazil — and its popularity would also serve to inform many international opinions of the country.

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3) The Economist (28/9-4/10/2003 edition) Has Brazil Blown It?“.

After declaring “Brazil takes off” four years earlier, The Economist returned to the topic of Brazil in this controversial special report which angered several Brazilians who questioned some of its findings, interpretations, and even choice of pictures and graphics in the wake of the economic slowdown and mid-2013 street protests. Through The Economist’s “liberal” political and economic world view, it highlights Brazil’s high cost of living, overvalued currency, agriculture, the need for pension reform while furthering infrastructure investment, and the “new” (C) middle class.

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4) Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power (2014) Michael Reid.

Recently published by Yale University Press, this book by a former Economist Brazil correspondent (thus sharing the “liberal” world view) attempts to bridge the academic and mass publishing audiences. The first half of the book covers Brazil’s history starting with the arrival of the Portuguese in the 1500s, before focusing on contemporary issues (poverty reduction, oil/farming/Amazon, state capitalism, international relations, and the need for state reform). The author demonstrates how Brazil’s vast territory required a centralized political authority coupled with the cooperation of regional elites through patronage to govern the colony and later country. Reid provides a genealogy showing how the positivist philosophy of the late 1800’s then in conflict with more liberal democratic elements in Brazil’s political elite evolved into the corporatism/”national developmentalism” practiced by Vargas, the military regime, and, he alleges, again beginning with Lula’s second term. He also contrasts the decisions (both positive and negative) made by General Geisel’s regime with the current PT political leaders, which no doubt would be controversial for many Brazilian readers. Reid situates Brazil’s current economic slowdown and protests among the need to reform the state, of course along liberal lines, while largely supporting PSBD policy positions. Particularly lucid is his argument about the PMDB regional oligarchs who use their political positions to demand greater and greater patronage and pork in exchange for supporting the everyday function of government, while serving to veto positions that could actually reform the government and occupying the political space that might otherwise be taken by the typical conservative right wing parties found in other countries.

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5) Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, 2nd edition (2009) Thomas E. Skidmore.

Most university students in the United States taking courses on Brazil or Latin America are assigned this book. Skidmore is well known for his scholarship on 20th century Brazilian history, and he later produced this all in one introductory text, albeit limited to 300 pages. The book would be particularly interesting to Brazilians wanted to see how Brazil is portrayed in American academia.

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And so? Did you enjoy the “pitacos”? Do you have more references on this subject? Leave your comments below.

 

Bons Pitacos!

 

Pitacos by:

Chris Bailey

US-American from California, lives in Brazil discovering this country in all aspects.