Practicing the Future: Brazilian Youth, Educational Aspiration, and Collective Justice


The Tinker grant was instrumental in advancing my doctoral dissertation research. During the summer of 2018, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I conducted over 30 hours of participant observation in 8 college preparation courses (pré-vestibular comunitârio) in various parts of Rio de Janeiro and carried out multi-sited ethnographic research in dozens of events and meetings with youth, educators, and community leaders. I conducted over 20 pilot interviews and began reviewing archives. Several national and local events (i.e., the death of Marielle Franco, political shifts) and fieldwork itself motivated me to shift my research from its previous focus, though there is a great deal of continuity with the original objectives of studying youth agency, resistance, aspirations, and educational implications of youth subjectivities within challenging political times. After proposing a field site in the north/northeast, I decided to focus more on Rio as I had lived in Rio for 7 years prior to beginning my Ph.D. and therefore could better navigate fieldwork there; it is also the best site in which to conduct the project of my focus. In total, I have conducted over 10 years of work in international settings, mostly in Latin America. For others conducting research in the early stages, my main recommendation would be to stay open to listening and observing what is happening in the field. While we can arrive with a notion of a project in mind, it is an incredible opportunity to watch this shift with what we learn and about how the "field" and participants guide this research and our doctoral work. I used the findings to present in LASA (just before going to Brazil), in 2018, and in the American Anthropological Association conference - a panel on Brazil and (Un)doing Democracy with James Holston and other Brazilianist anthropologists. Importantly, the preliminary research I conducted through the Tinker grant enabled me to write 3 dissertation fieldwork grants this fall. Without preliminary research, I would not have a dissertation project that I believe is meaningful and that has developed over time.

Alice Taylor
Publication date: 
August 30, 2018
Publication type: 
Student Research