LAC Affiliate, Former Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme (2018-2023), Latin American Centre, currently at KCL
I am a Reader in Brazilian and Latin American Studies and Director of the King’s Brazil Institute. Before joining KCL in April 2023, I was the director of the Brazilian Studies Programme at Oxford and Course Director at the Latin American Centre. Below I share some of my activities and interests while at Oxford. For my current research and activities at KCL, please see my profile.
Oxford’s Trajectory and Activities:
In September 2018, I joined the Latin American Centre as a Lecturer and senior fellow at St. Antony’s college. The LAC housed my enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies was home to my international and comparative research prism. Having studied in Brazil, Germany, South Africa, India, and the UK, I write about Brazilian politics and city governance comparatively.
I lectured the courses ‘Cities and Citizenship in Latin America’, discussing rural-urban migration, informal housing, and urban violence; and the course ‘Politics in Brazil’, focussing on Brazil’s contemporary politics. I also contributed to the course 'Political Economy in Latin America', which I taught in 2019, and to the Research Methods course where I convened a course on Political Ethnography. As the Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme, I organised seminars and hosted visiting scholars and students working on a variety of disciplines discussing Brazilian inequalities and democracy.
My research is concerned with the intersections and the dynamics between formal and informal political and economic systems. In my ethnography in Ouro Preto, Brazil, I have observed participatory politics (Policy Councils): who participates in meetings, how do meetings develop, and which impact do participatory politics have in the city. What I have seen is that participating is not the same as voicing concerns, and people may go to meetings but remain silent. Sub-optimal decisions in policy councils are sometimes less costly for participants than confronting established powers in town. Thus, there is a negative relationship between participation and levels of economic dependency. Whereas grassroots politics is a valuable resource to press for urban amenities, it is important to consider which spaces are adequate for effective participation and when poverty mobilizes or discourages participatory politics.
Looking more specifically at mining licenses, grassroots activism is vital because concession is granted, presumably with the input of civil society receiving meaningful compensations. My book: “The Politics of Memory: Urban Cultural Heritage in Brazil” (2019), looks at the challenges of citizens’ political participation and how the past of cities is preserved while the future is often threatened by extractive industries. I have also co-edited two books about comparative urbanism, looking at Brazil, South Africa, India and China (Manchester University Press). I also have other papers published at Contemporary Social Science, Ethnography, JLAG, Politics and Gender, amongst others.
In 2020, I joined the CADDE Centre analysing Brazil’s fragmented sub-national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings were published at Science, The Lancet, Nature Human Behaviour, Nature Scientific Data, amongst other Journals.
Before coming to the LAC, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Anthropology in Oxford, where I am still involved teaching on Urban Ethnographic Methods. I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews (UK), a master’s in social sciences at the University of Freiburg (Germany), University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India); and Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Brasilia. I also worked at the Ministry of Social Development, helping to establish the Zero Hunger Programme and Family Grant Programme, and at the Indian Embassy to Brazil, setting up collaborations between these two countries. At the United Nations, I worked on reports on transnational organised crime and violence against women and girls.