Hi all! My name is Diego and I am a third-year student from Guatemala at the University of Richmond (UR). I am in Lima, Peru, where I have been working for the past few weeks, and now I am on my way to the airport to take a flight to Rio de Janeiro for my semester abroad. I wanted to introduce myself before going into a busy introduction week at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). At UR, I am an Interdisciplinary major (Latin American Politics and Social Justice) and, potentially, a Geography minor. I will be studying at PUC-Rio this fall (but don’t be surprised if I try to stay there for the entire year!).
Rio de Janeiro is located in the south-eastern region of Brazil. Once the capital city of Brazil, Rio is currently the second largest city in the country and one of Brazil’s main cultural and economic centers. Throughout the semester, I will make sure to update you with more and more information about Rio and the city’s relationship with the rest of Brazil.
Explaining the two reasons that led me to study in Brazil requires a bit of information on what I do at UR and outside. My main academic interest is to understand and explore how marginalized groups in Latin America do politics, both inside and outside governmental structures. Outside my regular classes, I have worked for a year now on issues related to indigenous peoples and their territories in the Brazilian-Peruvian Amazonian borderlands. As you may imagine, political and economic centers in both Brazil and Peru have strongly influenced the history of this remote region. Getting to know these powerful hubs, such as Lima, Brasilia, and Rio de Janeiro, is key to understanding indigenous peoples’ struggles in the Amazon.
As such, my first motivation to study at PUC-Rio is to begin to understand Brazil’s relationship with its Amazonian territory to further my academic and non-academic work in the region. My second reason to study at PUC-Rio has to do with my background as a Guatemalan student and my desire to work in Latin America. From the Hispanic immigrant population in the US to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the southern tip of South America, notions of what Latin America is and perceptions of a Latin American culture vary drastically. My experience tells me that people both inside and outside Brazil will think differently when asked whether Brazil is part of Latin America or shares a Latin American culture. Yet Brazil’s recent economic and political growth has made the country an attractive ally for the region. How do Brazilians think of Latin America, and to which degree do they identify with the region? Do such perceptions and identification vary across different regions of Brazil? Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be able to have some initial answers for those questions!
I am almost at the Lima airport now. It is always tough to leave Peru (an incredibly interesting country) but I am truly looking forward to settling in Rio and sharing some of my experiences with you! Studying at PUC-Rio will be a great opportunity to learn more about other Brazilian regions.