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Social Science and Humanities Network

Advancing Tolerance, Equality, and Human Rights

The Brazil Initiative is dedicated to advancing collaborative scholarship and teaching on the topics of social difference, inequality, and human rights from multiple, intersecting perspectives.  Our collaborations with our colleagues at the University of Michigan, UniRio, University of Sao Paulo, and other institutions in Brazil and Latin America have made this work possible.


Three-part series of events: Part 2 - “Rewriting the History of Race through Literature in Brazil and Argentina”

A major event for fiction writers and scholars that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2015. More details coming soon!

The Global Feminisms Project (GFP) at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender Collaboration

Professors Caulfield and Grinberg are working with Ana Mauad, Senior Researcher at the Laboratory of Oral History and Image (LABHOI-UFF) at the Federal Fluminense University to conduct interviews in Brazil with women scholars and activists.  Human Rights history students will assist in research and conducting interviews.  The interviews, in both written and digital format, will become part of the Global Feminisms online archive, a powerful tool for teaching comparatively in women’s studies, history, anthropology, political science, psychology, and sociology. Learn more »

UM Law School and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais-UFMG School of Law Human Trafficking Clinic

Led by U-M Human Trafficking Clinic Director Bridgette Carr and Carlos Henrique Haddad, a federal judge in Brazil and member of the law faculty at UFMG, the U-M Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic is working with UFMG School of Law to create a legal clinic in which students will represent people forced into slave labor in Brazil. 

The UM Law School and Legal and academic institutions in Brazil are expanding UM-Brazil ongoing collaborations. Judge Carlos Haddad (UFMG) and chamber of deputies staff attorney Leonardo Barbosa are also affiliated with the Brazil Initiative at LACS. Read the story »

The History of Human Rights” Conference in Rio de Janeiro

“The History of Human Rights” conference organized by UniRio was held in Rio de Janeiro on May 13-14, 2014 attracting an audience of 80 students and faculty.  The event included a keynote address by UM Professor Rebecca Scott and two panels featuring papers by University of Mchigan Professors Paulina Alberto and Sueann Caulfield, and scholars from five Brazilian institutions. This gathering provided the opportunity for a meeting of key participants to plan future collaborations.

U-M and UniRio Collaborative Teaching on Human Rights

Since winter 2013, Professors Keila Grinberg (UniRio) and Sueann Caulfield (U-M) have been teaching simultaneous courses on the History of Human Rights with a significant component of exchange through distance learning technology.  Students from the two institutions meet via video-conferencing for 4-6 class sessions during the semester, and collaborate in joint research teams via skype and email.  In the first year, students from Professor Grinberg’s course participated in the May conference. This course is part of the Michigan International Seminars for Undergraduates Initiative. The collaboration has encouraged second-year students to expand their study of Brazil over their remaining years at University of Michigan.

During Spring Break of 2014, Professor Caulfield’s International Seminar for undergraduates on the History of Human Rights in Latin America made a five-day field trip to Rio de Janeiro to participate in a range of joint activities with the students in Professor Grinberg’s course. 

U-M Law School “History, Human Rights, and Contemporary Slavery” Conference

The U-M Law School hosted a conference on “History, Human Rights, and Contemporary Slavery” on November 1, 2013. This conference included presentations from four UM faculty members and presenters from history departments and law schools at three Brazilian universities: UniRio, the Federal University of Santa Catarina, and the Universidade Nacional de Brasília (UNB). Professors Rebecca Scott (U-M) and Leonardo Barbosa (UNB) presented preliminary results of a joint research paper on contemporary slavery. All of the Brazilian legal scholars also made visits to U-M classes. Professor Cristiano Paixão (UNB) spent two weeks as a scholar-in-residence at the Law School. The papers presented at this conference are being translated and published in a special volume of Translating the Americas. In the fall of 2014, Leonardo Barbosa (UNB) returned for a semester-long fellowship at the Law School to continue his research collaboration with Professor Rebecca Scott.

Rewriting the History of Race through Literture in Brazil and Argentina

In November 2013, LACS and the Brazil Initiative hosted the first of a three part series of events on “Re-writing the History of Race through Literature in Brazil and Argentina,” led by Professor Paulina Alberto (RLL/History), Lea Geler (CONICET, Buenos Aires) and Keila Grinberg (UniRio). These events are designed to support and capitalize on a research collaboration among these three scholars that addresses the contemporary boom in historical fiction about racial themes in Argentina and Brazil. This event included a public address by acclaimed Brazilian Novelist Ana Maria Gonçalves.

The Race, Public History, and Fiction working group convened in Buenos Aires in the spring of 2014. They are planning a major event for fiction writers and scholars that will be held in Rio in 2015. This will be the second installment of the three-part series of events.

Graduate and Post-doctoral Workshop: “New Perspectives on Race and Slavery”

The Brazil Initiative and its partners support a range of research and study exchanges at the graduate level. This includes U-M students’ participation in the “New Perspectives on Race and Slavery” workshop at the University of São Paulo (USP). The Brazil Initiative and partners provided summer funding for five U-M students to travel to Brazil for research and fieldwork related to their professional degrees.