As it gains prominence on the world stage, Brazil is not the only nation that touts racial equality despite a legacy of discrimination dating back to the slave trade.
But just as African folk healers gave comfort and a sense of identity to oppressed Afro-Brazilians in the 18th century, new generations of writers and arts activists are bringing inspiration to the underclass in the country hosting this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Understanding those parallels is the goal of UIndy Assistant Professor Sarah Ohmer as she embarks on a 10-month project of travel, research and teaching in Brazil, funded by the U.S. State Department’s prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program.
Dr. Ohmer holds a Ph.D. in Latin American literature and just completed her third year teaching Spanish language and culture in UIndy’s Department of Modern Languages. She has a particular interest in African diaspora culture, especially in Latin America, and especially as it pertains to women and how they cope with their historically limited power in society.
“I like to have people think about who they are and how they define themselves,” she says, “how a nation defines itself to the world and who is left out of that, and how does that connect to what we see on TV, in the news, in literature.”