The Latin America Working Group invites you to join us for a discussion with Prof. Brodwyn Fischer (University of Chicago, Department of History), co-sponsored by the Department of History.This session will take place on Monday, March 11 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in Bolívar House. Please RSVP here to receive the readings in the week preceding the event. This also helps us know how much food to order.Prof. Fischer will be sharing work from her current book project Intimate Inequalities: Relational Power and Urban History in Post-Abolition Recife. Please find a flyer and other details below.
Summary: Intimate Inequalities centers on Recife’s paradoxical urban transformation from the 1870s to the 1930s. Recife was the largest metropolis of the Brazilian northeast, but often emerged as the sick man of urban Brazil: poor, violent, chaotic, structured by hierarchy and deep inequality. Recife also incubated some of Brazil's most original national paradigms and radical social movements, from Gilberto Freyre's patriarchal racial democracy to the Communist and Catholic left to Paulo Freire's emancipatory pedagogy. Unlike the paradigmatic North Atlantic city -- in which old systems of patriarchal, personal, vertical power gradually give way to the forces of liberalism, citizenship and horizontal solidarity -- Recife modernized and radicalized as an essentially relational city, in which economic and political institutions were mediated by personal connection and deep inequalitystructured vital intimate interdependencies. This modernizing process was rooted in the dynamics of slavery and abolition, which forged an urban space that diverged sharply from the North Atlantic ideal and ingrained patterns of social mobility that depended heavily on relational power. In an urban atmosphere where the basic building blocks of a better life -- from food and housing to education, employment, and freedom itself -- could only be obtained through personal mediation, visions of egalitarian freedom and politics of horizontal solidarity necessarily coexisted with strategies for social mobility that reinforced structural inequalities.