Brazil: Democracy, Citizenship and Culture

Course lecturer: Dr. Fabio de Castro
Period: 5 February - 26 March, Tuesday at 13.00 - 17.00
Course load: 6 EC
Course ID: 137217146Y

This course addresses historical development and contemporary dynamics of the modern Brazilian society. The return to democracy in the 1980s, and in particular the election of the leftist president Lula in 2002 seemed to mark a rupture with a pattern of unequal development. However, the current multiple crises point to the problems and limitations of the Workers’ Party’s programme of equitable and inclusive development.The course seeks to look beyond the current crisis in order to understand the socio/economic, environmental, political and cultural transformation of the largest Latin American country. The concepts of democracy, citizenship and culture will help us to frame key dimensions of this transformation. Democracy refers to the changes in the political order. Until recently, democratic political stability was an important factor for relatively successful development during the past 25 years in Brazil. Citizenship is not only fundamental for democratic politics but also speaks to the challenges in the field of security, wellbeing, inequality, identity, diversity and participation. Brazil is often seen as a paradigm of unequal or ‘disjunctive’ citizenship. Culture refers to changing values, identity and practices in both urban and rural spaces.

The aim of the course is to promote a thorough knowledge on current debates around societal transformation in Brazil, in regards to politics, culture and sustainability at the national and international levels. In terms of learning objectives, upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

- have a thorough knowledge of the role of key actors and institutions in the Brazilian society, and the positioning of Brazil in the international arena;
- understand the key factors driving recent social and political change in Brazil;
- apply the concepts of citizenship, democracy, identity and sustainability in the Brazilian context;
- analyze key economic, socio-political, cultural and environmental processes in Brazil within formal and informal institutional changes;
- evaluate the current social trends in Brazil in regards to relevant local, national and global processes.

Form of instruction and assessment
The course is assessed on the basis of a book review and a final written open book exam on the lectures and the literature.
This course is offered for 6 ECTs. Each session consists of a lecture from 13:00 to 15:45 hours, followed by a working group from 16:00 to 17:00 hours (with corresponding literature). The format of the working group session vary according to the theme and may include short videos, newspaper articles, plenary debates among others.

For the examination dates please consult the timetable on
Click here for the course description in the UvA Studiegids.

The literature will consist of a reader of articles and book chapters (about 60 pages to study per meeting). The main course literature will be F. de Castro, K. Koonings, and M. Wiesebron (eds) 2014. Brazil under the Workers’ Party Continuity and Change from Lula to Dilma – Palgrave, complemented by a limited number of articles and book chapters.

Registration and Participation

UvA Students

Students registered at the University of Amsterdam can register for the CEDLA courses through SIS.

Students registered at other Dutch universities
BA students that are registered at another Dutch university can register as a guest student Spanish Language and Culture (‘bijvakstudent Spaanse Taal en Cultuur’) at the University of Amsterdam in Studielink.

MA students that are registered at another Dutch university can register through our digital registration form.

Persons who are interested in our courses, but are not registered as students at a university, may participate in some courses under certain provisions. Those interested, should provide the secretariat with some information on their background, their background knowledge and their special interest in taking the course. Non-students can register for the courses through our digital registration form

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the CEDLA secretariat. We are open on weekdays from 9.00 to 17.00 hours.

Telephone: +31 20 525 3498

Picture: Thiago Pedrosa (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)