Under The Spell of Amazon: Exploring the Structures of Race and Class in John Updike’s Novel Brazil (Published)
This paper is an attempt to examine how John Updike (1932-2009) a prominent American novelist, constructs in Brazil (1994) scenarios that reveal to his readers, moment by moment, the rich complexity of Brazilian race relations. I also seek to point out how Updike sets forth the complicated racial issues in modern-day Brazil through the hardships his two main characters, Tristão and Isabel, undergo. In a way, Updike seeks to identify parallel selves in individuals of other nations; individuals whom one would typically categorize as “Others”. The paper also discusses how Updike attempts to de-emphasize racial differences and suggests that humans are all connected to one another as mixed combinations of color. I argue that in a society where racial identities are not clearly definable and where miscegenation is commonplace, interracial unions are more easily accepted. Updike, however, sees that behind this admixture there is a bias linked to skin color and social class. Meanwhile, I argue that Updike’s text is stronger in his sense of place than his sense of people. In other words, though Updike poses the problems of race and identity, he falls short of that, because the main ideas of the novel—the questions of race and class—are never deeply explored or illuminated.
In 2018, year of presidential elections, the Brazilian Federal Government prepared to privatize the biggest state owned company in Brazil, Eletrobras, first Latin American and world’s fourth power supply industry. It also represents the largest single privatization transaction in the entire Brazilian history, estimated in BRL 20 billion ($6 billion, approximately). What are the regulatory issues involving privatization? How does it work in Brazil? These are questions we addressed in this single case through content analysis of extensive Brazilian official documents, such as Laws, sectorial and government agencies’ norms and deliberations. We also investigated the offspring of privatization in Brazil, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current transaction scenario. Finally, managerial recommendations and future research on the topic are presented.
In late 2017, Brazilian president Michel Temer commissioned a survey about civil service and government expenditures at the World Bank. The results were catastrophic: The Brazilian government spends significantly more than it collects and allocates its resources in an inefficient way, impacting negatively the Brazilian economy growth. One of the villains pointed by the report is precisely the size of the government, the inefficient Federal Civil Service, especially the high salaries, and disproportional benefits from the Executive branch, especially regarding the Social Security regime. The initiative is part of the Federal Government to follow through a controversial reform on civil service, under current Congress debate, in a year of presidential elections. Will the reform succeed? We analyzed the challenges and pitfalls on the Brazilian Civil Service, and its reform proposals, in comparison to: (a) private service, and (b) to equivalent civil services from other countries. Finally, we addressed the discussion on its implications to the Brazilian economy, and brought recommendations for public managers, as well as future research.
Creation of an Exceptional Natural Phenomenon of Chains of Dunes and Lagoons through a Rare Balance of Five Key Elements in the National Park Lençóis Maranhenses in the Northeast of Brazil: Sand, Rain, Wind, River and Vegetation – An Artistic Approach (Published)
During our travels in the State of Maranhão in the northeast of Brazil, we explored the region of the National Park Lençóis Maranhenses in 2012 and 2013 before crossing the park during 5 days in September 2013 with the aim to produce nature art photography and organize subsequent itinerant exhibition throughout the country and abroad. We could confirm in loco the creation and constant modification of an exceptional natural phenomenon of chains of dunes and lagoons through a rare balance of five key elements in the park: sand, rain, wind, river and vegetation. Questions were raised and answers need to be found. Where is the sand coming from? What are the roles of the tides? How is the wind transforming the dunes? What are the natural lagoons or water ponds that exist in the middle of the dunes? What is the role of the vegetation? The dunes are in constant movement, what is their annual rate of dislocation? Is the balance of the five key elements to recreate the phenomenon threatened at present time or in the future, for instant due to ongoing, negative climate changes? A special approach was taken, as the production of nature photography of the dunes and lagoons in the park allowed us to know and observe the vast park area very closely. For the consecution of the aim of the research, we collected data based on bibliographic research, extents field studies in the area of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in 2012 and 2013, while conducting interviews with the habitants of the three communities living in the middle of the park and realizing artistic productions of nature photography and itinerant exhibitions to accompany the process of creation of dunes and lagoons in the park. We concluded that the balance of the five key elements to recreate the phenomenon depends on some fundamental factors such as, for instant, the same direction of the steady winds throughout the year, the elevation of the groundwater level due to rainfall during the month of January until July and the drying out of the water ponds during the month of July to December. We could distinguish the existence of free dunes inside the park and the fixed dunes on the Southern borders of the park and near to the village Atins. An important role plays the vegetation, that are fixing the dunes and delimitating the area of the park as further crowing of dunes is inhibited beyond theses areas due to the fixation of the dunes by vegetation. Furthermore, vegetation can deviate the direction of the winds, which might result in some cases in accumulation of a great amount of sand where vegetation was able to fix itself on the surface of a dune (the so called shadow dunes). In the first six months, due to rainfall, elevated groundwater level causing the creation of lagoons or water ponds, the free dunes in the park are almost not migrating, whereas during the months between July and December, with the drying out of the lagoons, sinking of the groundwater level and the continuing steady winds, the free dunes are migrating and moving in average 20m per year. The change of the landscape is confirmed by members of the three families living in the middle of the park, the Paulos, the Britos and the habitants of Baixa Grande during interviews. In the dry period of the year without rainfall, algae and vegetation can be found on the bottom of the lagoons and serve as food for domestic animals as pigs, horses and sheeps that are walking free inside the park. One scenario in the future is that the crossing of the park might be prohibit by the park administration alleging environmental prejudice to the balance of the park, as well as dust left behind while camping inside the park. Based on our experience, this kind of alternative tourism is not threatening the environment, as, for instant, we did not see any remains, and nothing was left behind by ourselves during the crossing and due to the fact that only few people are entering the park by food. As the results of our research show, the exceptional natural phenomenon of chains of dunes and lagoons through a rare balance of five key elements in the park: sand, rain, wind, river and vegetation continuous to be intact and is not threatened, even not due to climate changes that occurred in this area. In recent years, it could be observed that, due to a dryer year with less rain occurrence during the month of January to July, the lagoons dried out in the subsequence months very quickly. Some lagoons contain fish. Even drying out (in the case of the not perennial water ponds) in the second half of the year and located in the middle of the park with no other water source visible next to it, the fish reappears in the following rainy season at the beginning of the year. One explanation is the possible ability of the fish to adapt to the situation by digging themselves into the sand into ground water layers where they are able to survive. Future research needs to be carried out to accompany closely the recreation and constant modification of an exceptional natural phenomenon of chains of dunes and lagoons through a rare balance of the five key elements needed.
Uncontrolled Vertical Growing Coastal Cities in Brazil: Case Study about Accelerated Residential Verticalisation of Brazilian Coastal Cities from South to North, With Focus on Social-Spatial Segregation in the Construction of Urban Space, Forcing the Migration of the Former Local Communities of These Areas – An Artistic Approach (Published)
During our travels along the coast from South to North to visit the main capital cities of the different states, we could confirm an accelerated vertical residential expansion of neighbourhoods in these urban zones, seemingly uncontrolled and supposedly unplanned, with heights of skyscrapers varying from twelve to forty floors built next to each other, surrounded by areas with the dominant presence of houses. In this article, we investigate the whereabouts of the local population that lived in houses in these areas before the verticalisation of the neighbourhoods and search for answers for the question if verticalisation of the city is contradictory to equal urban rights, quality of life and access for everybody living in the city. A special approach was taken, as the production of architecture photography of the skyscraper in theses neighbourhoods allowed us to observe the urban areas very closely. For the consecution of the aim of the research, we used data obtained from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), based on the 2000 and 2010 censuses, to identify the increase in number of apartments in the urban zones of the investigated cities in this period of time to proof social-spatial segregation, causing the migration of the former local population, also confirmed by in loco observations and interviews conducted with residents of the area during the artwork production from 1997 to 2016. We concluded that the former local population in these areas were forced to migrate to less expansive neighbourhoods in the cities or even left the urban zones to live in peripheral zones close to the city. The accelerated and widely “uncontrolled and unplanned” verticalisation processes resulted in social-spatial segregation of the city. In the urban agglomeration, a division has been taken place between privileged and unprivileged zones. In the privileged zones, the construction of huge walls around the condominiums and the lack of people in the streets are provoking increasing security issues and offer limited access only for a privileged portion of the population, whereas, in the unprivileged zones, due to the physical distant to the central working neighbourhoods of the city, people depend on cars. This creates a densification of the rich and an acceleration of the sprawling tendency of poverty. As a result of the process of verticalisation of neighbourhoods in capital cities on the coast of Brazil from North to South, we could identify several problems related to the process, based on our in loco observations and interviews carried out with residents during our field study, such as waterproofing coverings that are causing inundations of streets in the neighbourhoods, increase of temperature, wind funnelling, traffic jams, air pollution and security concerns, as well as large volumes of urban runoff, deficient water supply, wastewater and solid waste collection. One scenario in the future is that the neighbourhoods of the investigated coastal cities will suffer even more spatial segregation due to continued valorisation of its urban land, as areas receiving infrastructure elements. In consequence, the taxation increases and real estate pressure intensifies. The low-income population, known as local communities, are going to be driven out to more distant locations. Where they lived before, their houses are going to be replaced to built skyscraper. The accelerated verticalisation process, as observed in loco in coastal cities from the South to the North of Brazil, has produced increasingly segregated cities, rather than bring together and mix their citizen. As the results of our research show, the continuing and accelerated vertical expansion process in neighbourhoods of the main coastal cities in Brazil is full of contradictions and does not reflect on equal rights and access to the city for all its citizens, but rather reflects on social-spatial segregation. Future research needs to be carried out to accompany closely the urban development processes of the neighbourhoods in the main coastal cities included in this study.
São Francisco Valley: Vitivini Culture Activities in the Brazilian Unthinkable Semiarid Climate and Its Challenges (Published)
Located at the northeastern region in Brazil, the São Francisco Valley has recently drawn a great deal of attention from the world wine industry, due to its successful activities regarding the unthinkable latitude and weather conditions for wine business. This single case study investigates the challenges, pitfalls, and the success of the São Francisco Valley economic acitivites, such as the transposition of the São Francisco river infrastructure project, here highlighted as a Brazilian development model for the northeast agriculture. Usually, winemakers are concentrated in the north and south temperate zones (latitudes of 34° to 45°N, and 31°a 38° S, respectively). The São Francisco Valley is located between Pernambuco and Bahia States, in a semiarid climate (caatinga), at 8o S latitude. Against all odds, the São Francisco Valley was responsible for 95 % of the table grapes exported from Brazil in 2015, with a production of 7 million liters of still wine (70% or 2,8 million liters, sparkling wines), within 700 hectares of cultivated area. It is also responsible for 15% of the Brazilian still wine production. with the incredible milestone of five crops produced each two years. The principal grape varieties cultivated are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet, Tannat, Touriga Nacional, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc (vitis vinifera), among others, generating over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs since 2002.