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Anthropophagy and Globalization in Brazil
Globalization in Brazil has been seen simultaneously as a blessed light at the end of the tunnel and as an evil trend imposed from abroad and to be rejected at all costs. In a "country of contrasts," as Brazilians have learned to refer to Brazil, the impact of globalization is not easy to determine. Lots of "buts" and exceptions have to be made whenever we talk about anything Brazilian — a country so large cannot be treated as singular. Having said this, one can only dare to discuss what might be a general "Brazilian view" on globalization. Most educated Brazilians tend to view globalization as a process of homogenization, loss of identity, and imposition of practices by the United States. Largely associated with economics and culture, globalization can be said to be generally understood by Brazilians as a modern process of domination promoted by the United States and accepted by our more recent national governments.
In Brazil, we have been concerned with issues of globalization for quite a long time, although we called it something else other than globalization — "invasion" at first, "influence" next. In 1928, for example, Brazil was shaken by an internal artistic movement known as Manifesto Antropofágico, or Anthropophagy Manifesto. This manifesto was written in a combination of languages (from local native languages to Portuguese, French, and English) and it claimed anthropophagy as a national characteristic: the idea was that we Brazilians tend to assimilate what is foreign, digest it, and thus sort the wheat from the chaff, storing the good and eliminating the bad, but always transforming what is eaten, as well as ourselves, in the process. This metaphor has since been used to refer to the so-called process of cultural dependency, seen as endemic in Brazil. The often-quoted sentence, "tupi or not tupi, that is the question1," alludes to what is perceived as a characteristic of our national identity — the welcoming appropriation of difference, its maintenance, and re-contextualization. The Manifesto simultaneously critiques Brazilian colonial and patriarchal history and cultural values borrowed from Europe, and makes the case for a utopian, matriarchal, and distinctive future history based on aboriginal societies. In this Manifesto, the contact between the local and the global, and the national and the foreign, is brought to the foreground and challenged in its cultural and economic implications. The Manifesto casts a light of ambivalence — in a positive way — on intercultural, temporal, and spatial relations between Brazil and other countries, cultures, and economies.
This view is shared by scholars nowadays. In the academy — in particular in economics and social studies where globalization studies are produced in higher numbers, globalization is defined as an ambiguous phenomenon. It promotes access to wealth through investments and world trade organizations, while it restricts such access with its capitalistic ideology focused on profit. Globalization accelerates contact and communication among distant nations and their peoples, at the same time it silences those who are excluded from the most recent technological trends. One can safely say, therefore, that Brazilian scholars generally see globalization as productive and restrictive, depending on how national public policies are designed and implemented. Nevertheless, the need for national policies to internally regulate the effects of globalization is not the only practice demanded or researched by academics. There is also a preoccupation with international practices and organizations, their own policies and those they recommend to others, especially those from the Global North to be adopted by the Global South. International agencies like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are important parts of the picture.
In Brazil, most studies on globalization are undertaken in the areas of Socially Applicable Sciences2, mainly in Economics, Law, International Relations, and Social Studies. More recently, however, there has been an increase in academic texts and research on globalization in the area of languages and education. Such research is generally organized inside these greater areas, without a specific department that occupies itself exclusively or mainly with globalization. Still, many higher education institutions organize university centres with a distinctive focus on globalization studies. Several of these renown centres are:
- NUREG - Núcleo de Pesquisas sobre Regionalização e Globalização (Globalization and Regionalization Research Centre), Fluminense Federal University. Research areas: de-territorialization and identity, regionalization and globalization
- Núcleo de Estudos da Globalização (Globalization Studies Centre), State University of São Paulo. Research areas: political economy of global capitalism, labour and globalization
- Instituto de Estudos Avançados (Institute for Advanced Studies), University of São Paulo. Research areas: policies for scientific, social, and cultural development; social uses of knowledge
Besides universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations also house centres that include globalization in their areas of research. IPEA (Institute for Applied Economics Research), is one example of a governmental organization linked to the Centre for Strategic Issues of the Federal Government. IPEA is well-known in the country, not only for the research it produces, but also as the institution that informs national government decisions in the area. Some examples of recent issues investigated by IPEA in relation to globalization are income inequalities, public expenses, labour market, retirement and pension incomes, and income and education.
There are also some independent organizations well-known in Brazil for their research on globalization. One of the most famous is Instituto Paulo Freire (Paulo Freire Institute), an international non-profit association whose main research interests in globalization presently are: globalization and educational reform; globalization and educational policies; globalization and degrees, institutions, and actors in Brazilian education.
It is difficult to determine compelling papers on globalization studies in Brazil, and important keywords change as you enter different knowledge areas. Below, however, I list, by thematic area, papers by some of the recognizable names associated with globalization studies in Brazil.
Languages and Globalization
Keywords related to theme: inclusion, identity
Gimenez, Telma. 2005. Língua estrangeira na aldeia global e na tribo local [Foreign language in the global village and the local tribe]. Anais do XIII EPLE, 210-15. Maringá: Associação dos Professores de Língua Inglesa. Abstract: The recognition that in the contemporary world foreign languages are subordinate to economic issues related to globalization brings consequences to both classroom teaching and language teaching policies. In this text, aspects of this relationship are addressed. Pedagogical activism is suggested as a way of redressing the imbalance created by the displacement of citizenship. The author argues that foreign language teaching policies that acknowledge the links between language and economy stand a better chance of approval. Article keywords: globalization, foreign language teaching, foreign language policies.
Author biodata: graduated in English and Portuguese, State University of Londrina. Master's degree in Applied Linguistics, Catholic University of São Paulo. PhD in Linguistics and Modern English Language, Lancaster University, England. Internship at Kettering Foundation, USA, on public school and democracy. Current affiliation: Department of Modern Languages, State University of Londrina. Research interests: foreign language teaching/learning, teacher education.
Leffa, Vilson J. 2002. Teaching English as a multinational language. Linguistic Association of Korea Journal 10(1):29-53. Abstract: The de facto adoption of English as a lingua franca in worldwide communication has met both acceptance and rejection among scientists from different parts of the world. This article tries to analyze the issue from both sides, including the ideologies that underlie frequently-mentioned dichotomies such as central versus peripheral countries, native speakers of English versus non-native speakers, and alternatives that have been proposed to counterbalance the hegemony of English. It is argued that for a language to be multinational it should ideally include certain characteristics such as the prevalence of non-native speakers, the ability to incorporate other cultures, and tolerance to diversity. Giving a language a multinational status along these lines does not necessarily imply promotion of the language, but it does impose the idea that the language be willing to lose part of its cultural and linguistic identity. While it is debatable whether any language fulfills these conditions, this article makes a case for English as the best candidate, offering some suggestions on how to teach it from a multinational perspective.
Author biodata: PhD in Applied Linguistics, Texas University. President of the Brazilian Applied Linguistics Association. Current affiliation: Department of Languages, Catholic University of Pelotas. Research interests: technology and foreign language learning, distance education.
Economics and Globalization
Keywords related to theme: labour, wealth distribution, development
Cacciamali, M.C. 2000. Globalização e Processo de Informalidade [Globalization and Informality Processes]. Economia e Sociedade (14): 153-74. Abstract: This article focuses on world capital accumulation processes, their spatial and institutional aspects, relations of subordination and national and local specificities, analyzing its effects on the organization and forms of production and of inclusion of workers. For the author, globalization imposes certain economic policies (rather than the other way around), in a process that demands stronger participation of the nation-state. National governments should promote economic growth and regulate markets, imposing standards to avoid exploitation and allow wealth and profit distribution. Quote: "The aim of the nation-state is to mediate certain effects of greater exposure to external markets and a more intense integration of economies. Some of these effects may be adverse, such as the loss of cultural identity; others may be very quick, such as the destruction of certain entrepreneurial segments and branches of domestic economic activity involving intense manual labour and which have not had a chance to restructure in terms of higher technology and productivity. Others may be productive, such as greater competitiveness in the market and higher levels of productivity."
Author biodata: Currently a member of the Department of Economics, University of São Paulo. Sabbatical at University of New Mexico and MIT. Ex-president of Brazilian Association for Employment Studies. Coordinator of the Centre for Research on International and Comparative Politics. Research interests: labour market, public policies, wealth and income distribution, fundamental job rights, free workers associations, collective negotiations, eradication of child work and forced labour, end of discrimination on the job. Website: www.econ.fea.usp.br/cacciamali
Political Sciences, International Relations and Globalization
Keywords related to theme: environment, climate change
Viola, Eduardo. 2004. Brazil in the context of global governance politics and climate change, 1989-2003. Ambiente e Sociedade 7(1): 27-46. Abstract: The author attributes economic and social failures in Brazil to "historical domestic obstacles" rather than to consequences of globalization. Nevertheless, he criticizes societies that have successfully integrated with the global economy for not developing a responsible attitude towards global issues such as the environment.
Author biodata: Born in Buenos Aires, immigrated to Brazil in 1976 and naturalized as a Brazilian in 1989. Master degree in Sociology at Campinas University, Brazil and PhD in Political Science at University of São Paulo. Full professor at the International Relations Institute at University of Brasilia. Main research interests: international politics, comparative politics, international environmental politics, globalization and governance, political economy of climate change. Member of the editorial board of Global Environmental Politics and Brazilian Political Science Review, among others.
de Almeida, Paulo Roberto. 2004. A globalização e o desenvolvimento: vantagens e desvantagens de um processo indomável [Globalization and development: advantages and disadvantages of an untamable process]. In Comércio Internacional e desenvolvimento: Uma perspectiva brasileira, ed. Roberto Di Sena Júnior e Mônica Teresa Costa Cherem. São Paulo: Editora Saraiva. Abstract: This essay analyzes the interface between national productive systems, internal financial fluxes, services and global exchange of goods on the one hand, and the multilateral business systems in their modernized social and political structures on the other. From a historical perspective on three different kinds of globalization in Brazil (colonization, industrial revolution, capitalism), Almeida presents the country's first stage of development as the consequence of an exacerbated protection of national commercial politics that developed side by side with a financial dependency towards international funding agencies like the IMF and the World Bank. Nowadays, after the liberalization of commerce and economic openness, both of which have increased competitiveness, Brazil has finally increased its levels of productivity and reached real economic growth. However, this has made the Brazilian economy more fragile externally, while reducing inequality within the country. For the author, globalization has led to decreasing levels of inequality in the world in general as well.
Author biodata: PhD in Social Sciences, University of Brussels; Masters in Economic Planning, University of Antwerp. Brazilian diplomat. Former head of the Financial Policy Division in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Brasilia. Current affiliation is the University of Brasilia. Website: www.pralmeida.org
And so it is from the perspective of a Brazilian educator dealing with English as a foreign language that I conclude this paper with Sifakis and Sougari (2003) and their two approaches to EFL teaching from the perspective of globalization. They suggest one can either posit a "norm-biased" or a "culturally-biased" approach to EFL teaching. In the latter, an idealized native-speaker of English is taken as the reference for the correct use and usage of English all over the world. An ideal proficiency and command of the language is determined from a comparison between this imaginary speaker and the language learner, who is expected to achieve standards close to those of the native speaker. On the other hand, the culturally informed approach does not use place of birth as a requirement or model. This approach perceives language as discourse, as an element for the construction of meanings in social practice. As such, language learning is seen as closely connected to one´s identity and the culturally learned interpretive procedures through which one sees the world.
Cacciamali, M.C. 2000. Globalização e Processo de Informalidade [Globalization and Informality Processes]. Economia e Sociedade 14: 153-74.
de Almeida, Paulo Roberto. 2004. A globalização e desenvolvimento: vantagens e desvantagens de um processo indomável [Globalization and development: advantages and disadvantages of an untamable process]. In Comércio Internacional e desenvolvimento: Uma perspectiva brasileira, ed. Roberto Di Sena Júnior e Mônica Teresa Costa Cherem, São Paulo: Editora Saraiva.
Gimenez, Telma. 2005. Língua estrangeira na aldeia global e na tribo local [Foreign language in the global village and the local tribe]. In Anais do XIII EPLE. 210-15. Maringá: Associação dos Professores de Língua Inglesa.
Leffa, Vilson J. 2002. Teaching English as a multinational language. Linguistic Association of Korea Journal 10 (1): 29-53.
Sifakis, N.C. and Sougari, A-M. 2003. Facing the globalisation challenge in the realm of English language teaching. Language and Education 17 (1): 59-71.
Viola, Eduardo. 2004. Brazil in the context of global governance politics and climate change, 1989-2003. Ambiente e Sociedade 7 (1): 27-46.
1. "Tupi" is an indigenous language.
2. At present (2008) the official classification of areas of knowledge in Brazil is as follows: Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Engineering and Computing, Biological Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Agronomic and Veterinarian Sciences, Human Sciences, Socially Applicable Sciences (such as Law, Management, Economics, Social Service, Information Sciences, to name a few) and Languages and Arts.