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rio de janeiro brazil aads maymester

Program Description

This course provides an overview of the theories, histories and politics of the African diaspora in the Americas.  Students engage in service learning with CRIOLA, a Brazilian NGO that works to improve the living conditions of Black women within Brazil by training and preparing them to face the racism, sexism and homophobia current in Brazilian society. Volunteer positions give students the opportunity to interact widely with the CRIOLA community.

Courses take place at the Universidade Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). In 2003, UERJ became the first Brazilian university to use affirmative action policies in its admission process.  While attending the course on African Diaspora in the Americas, students have the unmatched opportunity to read and debate on topics concerning Black peoples while experiencing the very new and palpable effects of the greater presence of Afro-Brazilians in previously segregated institutions of higher learning.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its natural setting, Carnaval, samba, Copacabana and Ipanema. Famous landmarks also include the giant statue known as Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), one of the new Seven Wonders of the World; Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain); the Sambódromo, a permanent parade stadium used during Carnaval; Maracanã stadium, one of the world’s largest soccer stadiums; and its many favelas. Favelas are an essential part of understanding the makeup of Rio. These primarily Black communities are informal urban settlements originating from independent ex-slave communities called quilombos. Favela residents make up 25 percent of the city and are its fastest-growing population. Rio also boasts the world’s two largest forests growing inside an urban area: the Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca (White Stone State Park) and the famous Floresta da Tijuca (Tijuca Forest).


  • AFR 321 / AFR 381 / ANT 324L / LAS 324L | African Diaspora in the Americas. Meets major requirements in African and African Diaspora Studies, Anthropology and Latin American Studies.

Faculty Director

João Vargas

For over 15 years, Dr. João Vargas has collaborated with organizers in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro who theorize and effectively challenge anti-Black discrimination in the forms of sexism, residential segregation, state violence, blocked access to work and health care, and exposure to environmental hazards. He has written two books about these activist efforts. His current focus is on juvenile incarceration in the U.S. and police-military operations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - how these seemingly disparate phenomena engage and transform diasporic, anti-Black technologies of control.

Program and Application Details

For full program details and information on how to apply, go to the Program Page.

Questions? Email: Dan Siefken.