“The U.S. and Brazil are sort of the twins of North and South America, and they get compared as parallel narratives,” said Colorado College professor Sarah Hautzinger. “If you’re interested in geopolitics or political economy, globalization, migration, comparative culture — in so many areas, Brazil is an interesting vantage point because you’re straddled between worlds.”
An anthropologist whose research is focused in Brazil, Hautzinger has been tapped to lead the inaugural semester of the new ACM Brazil: Culture, Community, & Language at PUC-Rio program in fall 2016. She was drawn to the program’s accessibility — that students from any major and without prior Portuguese language study can immerse themselves in Brazilian society and pursue their individual academic interests.
“On this program you can step into Brazil in a very experiential way and continue your education without missing a beat by taking advantage of an English-based curriculum,” she said. “If you’ve already studied Spanish, French, or Italian, you can also probably return home with fluency in Portuguese, due to the similarities of the languages.”
Hautzinger brings many years of varied and in-depth experience in Brazil to the program. She’s lived in Rio de Janeiro and other cities, mostly while conducting fieldwork, but also twice leading students on off-campus study programs. Her main research area, and subject of a book she’s written, is all-women police stations in Brazil created to address violence against women.
As Visiting Faculty Director, she will teach one of the elective courses that students can take at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), ACM’s partner in the program. Students also have the option of pursuing an independent study project (ISP), supervised by Hautzinger.
Her interdisciplinary course, titled Brazil in Transnational Relationship: Production, Performance and Representation of National Identity, will examine ways that Brazilians relate and represent themselves to the “outside” world, as well as address broader issues of national images and identities and transnational, cross-cultural relationships, including the experiences of the students themselves in Brazil.
“There will be really interesting synergies between the community-based aspects of the course I’m teaching and the independent projects and the students’ volunteer service.”
|– Sarah Hautzinger|
“Being who I am, I will be tipping toward having a substantial community-based element in the course,” Hautzinger said. “For each of the units in the course, I expect to have guest speakers and field trips. There’s nothing like giving students the chance to have that kind of contact with people directly involved in the issues we’re studying.”
For students working on independent projects, Hautzinger plans to organize several sessions covering some basic principles in research methodology and then continue the meetings throughout the semester as a workshop, where students can read one another’s work.
“These projects are highly individualized, and there’s nothing I love better than working with students to ask what are your skills, what is the research question, is it too general or too specific, and then thinking about research design.” she said. “We’ll work very closely to tailor it to the student’s interests and abilities, as well as our resources. I see that as a big part of my job, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Although it’s not part of the formal academic program, PUC-Rio’s commitment to social action in the city has fostered a robust volunteer program run by university faculty and staff, which offers a wide range of community organizations and activities that students on the program can plug into.
“Most likely, there will be really interesting synergies between the community-based aspects of the course I’m teaching and the independent projects and the students’ volunteer service,” Hautzinger noted. “Students could have great opportunities to tie their social justice work at PUC into their independent studies and do some community-based kinds of fieldwork.”
With Hautzinger’s high energy level, emphasis on community engagement, and fascination with all things Brazilian, it’s shaping up to be a busy semester.
“Students might think ‘It’s Brazil, it’ll be chill, on the beach,'” she said, “but I think the expectations, both academic and experiential, can and will be very high. We will find time for leisure, but students might want to consider staying later or coming earlier if they really want a completely lackadaisical time on the beach, because I expect this program will be quite a ride for them!”