Dr. Moises Lino e Silva is an anthropologist who specializes in the question of freedom and its relationship to different pressing topics such as poverty, violence, sexuality, and development. Dr Lino e Silva has written on issues related to the impact of ecotourism on the life of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Forest and his current research is centered on issues of freedom as experienced by slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He currently holds a shared appointment teaching in Anthropology and in International and Global Studies at Brandeis University. Recently, Dr Lino e Silva has been selected a World Social Science Fellow by the International Social Science Council (UNESCO).
What do you think are the main challenges for economic development and sustainability in Brazil?
So, while some advances have been made, there in still a lot of inequality in Brazil. A good question to ask is how will the new economy work for different people. For example, my own work as an anthropologist focused on favelas (urban shantytowns) in Rio de Janeiro and a big concern is how will Brazil deal with favela dwellers now that the country is richer. Some favelas have of course benefitted from social projects. But, for instance, with big international events in Brazil like the Olympic games and the World Soccer Cup there have been changes to the lives of the urban poor. One thing is the so-called “pacification” of favelas, during those events, where the state took over the territory from drug lords and a challenge is to see if those policies will be sustained in general and to see if Brazil’s growth can be sustained beyond what people would call a “bubble” and what will happen to the poor if this bubble bursts. The second thing is about how Brazil’s growth will impact the environment. Brazil has a lot of natural resources such as oil and minerals that have been traditionally what we exported. Part of Brazil’s growth can be explained by its relationship to China and the Chinese buying our commodities. So another question is how much of our development is dependent on exploiting natural resources for producing commodities? More specifically, how does industrial growth cause pollution in our cities and rivers? Like in Sao Paulo, it is appalling how polluted the river Tietê is. It is more like an open sewer and it smells really bad. So there are various questions of reconciling economic growth and protecting environmental resources. The last thing I will mention is the impact of the agricultural industry on our forests. People argue that they need more land for growing their crops and raising cattle but where does that land come from? From deforestation. We have been successful in slowing down deforestation but it is always an open-ended question and we need to see how this will play out in the future. [Read more…]