Spring 2015

Cultural Agency: Dance, Democracy and Tourism in Bahia, Brazil

Listed in: Special Seminar, as COLQ-230

Moodle site: Course


Lucia M. Suarez (Section 01)


This tutorial offers an intensive introduction to writings of contemporary democracy, tourism studies, and cultural agency in Latin America. We will study the role that African dance in Bahia, Brazil plays in the dynamics of social and political inclusion of marginal lives.  Examining the works of cultural agents in Latin American contemporary history, we will interrogate the definition and function of cultural agency set within the context of contemporary discourses of democracy.  Is democracy an empty buzz-word that re-defines the Brazilian nation internationally without really reshaping the everyday lives of individuals locally? What role do tourism and the arts play in creating venues for cultural inclusion? Is cultural inclusion synonymous with political insertion? How does violence preclude or propel political change?   Within that frame, the working goal of the tutorial is to help students identify a researchable topic, master the literature presented by the professor (this includes original interviews and videos), develop a viable research design, and become comfortable with the process of academic research, synthesis, and organization. During the seminar, each student will develop a detailed prospectus for a research project.

This course is part of a new model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive research with faculty.   Proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese highly welcomed, but not necessary.  Interested students should contact Professor Suarez for an interview.  Preference will be given to students who have taken a class with Professor Suarez, or who are interested in continued study in Brazil, Black Studies, Diaspora, and/or Latin American Dance movements.

Open to sophomores and juniors.  Limited to 6 students. Spring semester. Professor Suarez.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to pre-registered students working in areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, Anthropology, Black Studies, and Political Science.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015