The City of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world. With a population variously estimated between 9 and 10 million people,
it is a sprawling and varied metropolis. For centuries the capital of Brazil, it remains the nation’s cultural center and – as Brazilians say -- the “picture postcard” of Brazil best known outside
the nation’s territory. Because of its size and history, Rio offers a vast array of opportunities – cultural, social and professional – with something to cater to just about any taste.
For the foreign visitor from the United States, the stark contrast between rich and poor often makes a startling impression. This is hardly surprising, as Brazil, although one of the largest economies in the world and a country blessed with vast natural resources and an enterprising population, also has one of the most unequal divisions of income in the world. Thus, the visitor will notice the favelas, or shantytown communities, upon landing at the international airport and while traveling from the working class North Zone (Zona Norte) of the city to the beachfront South Zone (Zona Sul), where students in the Program will be living. Once they arrive in the fashionable, tree-lined streets of Copacabana and Ipanema (where they will be staying), most visitors are instantly struck by the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty. This contrast, of course, informs classroom discussion and student learning.
As a result, and like any large metropolis, Rio can be unsafe. Some of its problems of urban violence have received widespread international attention.
Without question, a visitor needs to be aware of his or her surroundings, and, therefore, to exercise the caution appropriate in any large city. But the responsible student
who exercises a normal degree of caution is likely to encounter no more threatening situations than he/she might in Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles or New York.
The U.S. program faculty and their Brazilian faculty affiliates have wide knowledge of Rio and its surroundings, and they will make that knowledge available
to students and share their love of the city and its environs. Consequently, if there is sufficient interest outside of classrooms hours, it will be possible to arrange to go singly or
as a group to some of Rio’s famed tourist sites, such as Sugarloaf Mountain.
The world-famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are within a few minutes walk of the Program residence. Students may wish to visit a samba club,
like Carioca da Gema, to experience first-hand one of the nation’s most vibrant musical contributions to world culture.
Soccer fans can indulge their passion for Brazil’s greatest passion, if they like, with a field trip to Maracanã,
the world’s largest soccer stadium. They are even likely to be able to see one of Rio’s world famous teams, like the
Flamengo Football Club.
In short, given sufficient interest, students will be able to taste the rich diversity of Brazilian life -- with a distinctly Carioca accent.
Books – Reading About Brazil
For students who wish to read more about Brazil or Rio before the trip:
- Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, Thomas E. Skidmore (Oxford, 1999)
- The Brazilians, Joseph Page (Addison-Wesley, 1995)
- A Concise History of Brazil, Boris Fausto (Cambridge, 1999)
- Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil, Nancy Scheper-Hughes (California, 1992)
- A History of Brazil, E. Bradford Burns (Columbia, 1993)
- An Introduction to Brazil, Charles Wagley (Columbia, 1971)
- Laughter Out of Place: Race, Class, Violence, and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown, Donna Goldstein (University of California, 2003)
- Race in Contemporary Brazil : From Indifference to Inequality, Rebecca Reichmann, ed. (Penn State, 1999)
- Racial Politics in Contemporary Brazil, Michael Hanchard, ed. (Duke, 1999)
- Samba, Alma Guillermoprieto (Vintage, 1991)
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