Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
Shifting Margins in Brazil: State-Society Interactions in the Cultural Sphere

State-society relations take on distinct forms "at the margins," understood not only as a spatial border, but also as a social border by which subnational communities are hierarchized and excluded. This project examines the ways that such margins can shift in the context of cultural policy. Specifically, it examines this process as it occurs within the Brazilian Pontos de Cultura program, a state-sponsored initiative that for the past decade has supported diverse artistic activities in marginalized communities throughout the country. As remarkable as the program's innovative mission of "bottom up" cultural development is its painfully bureaucratic mode of implementation, generating tensions that state managers and marginalized artists negotiate together. What distinct forms of state-society interactions are emerging in the context of the Pontos de Cultura Program? How are state managers and artists negotiating the contradictions between the bureaucratic order of the state and the creative agency involved in cultural production, and how might such interactions change the practices or perceptions of those involved? What kinds of narratives is the program generating, and how do they impact the ideational marginalization of particular populations? To address these questions, the project relies on interviews with state officials and artists, observations of program activities, review of materials produced about the program, and analysis of the program's cultural outputs. It builds on a small but insightful political science literature which has helped highlight the role cultural forms play in political action and the broader systems of meaning within which power struggles occur, but which has tended to presume an oppositional relationship between state and society. This work explores the space culture creates for more collaborative encounters between state and marginalized actors, in which relationships of authority are altered and room for creative agency is expanded.