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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.4 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 25-Nov-2019 


Considerations on Cultural Studies in Brazil

Maria Lúcia Castagna WortmannI

Luís Henrique Sacchi dos SantosI

Daniela RipollII

IUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre/RS - Brazil

IIUniversidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), Canoas/RS - Brazil


From a review of articulations between Cultural Studies and theories of social communication, anthropology, social sciences, literary theory and education in Brazil, the academic production of concepts, perspectives and approaches in research is highlighted. The study involved: (a) a comprehensive search on the major international journals of Cultural Studies; (b) a search on Google Scholar and other specific platforms; (c) an analysis of institutional affiliations, research groups, résumés on Lattes platform, and interviews available online. At the end, this study presents political-academic considerations about studies conducted in Brazil in articulations with Latin American Cultural Studies.

Keywords: Cultural Studies; Education; Interdisciplinary Articulation


A partir de uma revisão sobre as articulações entre os Estudos Culturais e as teorizações das áreas da Comunicação Social, Antropologia, Ciências Sociais, Teoria Literária e Educação no Brasil, coloca-se em destaque a produtividade acadêmica de conceitos, perspectivas e modos de pesquisa. O estudo envolveu: (a) ampla varredura nos principais periódicos internacionais de Estudos Culturais; (b) pesquisa no Google Acadêmico e em outras plataformas específicas; (c) investigação de filiações institucionais, grupos de pesquisa, currículos Lattes e, eventualmente, entrevistas disponibilizadas online. Finaliza-se este texto apresentando apontamentos político-acadêmicos relativos aos estudos realizados no Brasil em sua articulação com os Estudos Culturais latino-americanos.

Palavras-chave: Estudos Culturais; Educação; Articulações Interdisciplinares


A review of articles published in the Cultural Studies journal in early 21st century shows an expansion of this study field, whose emergence is usually associated with the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, United Kingdom, in the 1960s, and trends that have (re)designed such studies with other traditions over time.

This journal, whose editor-in-chief is Lawrence Grossberg, a renowned professor and co-director of the Cultural Studies Program of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, United States, was created in 1987 and has published six issues every year since 2002. Also, it has published dossiers with a focus on investigations about Cultural Studies from different countries, including dossiers about Chinese Cultural Studies (v. 31, n. 6, 2017), Australian Cultural Studies (v. 29, n. 4, 2015), Latin American Cultural Studies (v. 25, n. 1, 2011 and v. 25, n. 3, 2011), Irish Cultural Studies (v. 24, n. 6, 2010 and v. 15, n. 1, 2001), Slovenian Cultural Studies (v. 24, n. 5, 2010), and Austrian Cultural Studies (v. 16, n. 2, 2002). Regarding the topics, the journal focuses on controversial and current issues, some more specific to certain national contexts, such as the resurgence of racism in Latin America in indigenous practices in Mexico and Ecuador, decolonial politics and racial disputes in Colombia and Peru (v. 32, v. 3, 2018). Broader topics are also highlighted, for instance, the uses and effects of digital media (v. 32, n. 4, 2018), subjectivities, affections, memories in different situations and locations (v. 32, n. 1, 2018), capitalism and post-work in different situations and places in the world (v. 31, v. 5, 2017), populism in political discourses (v. 31, n. 4), subalternities (v. 30, v. 5, 2016), financial issues in the daily life between the monetary and the mundane universes in different practices, arrangements, moralities, affections, routines and contexts (v. 29, n. 5/6, 2015), cultural scenes as multidimensional complexes of signification (v. 29, n. 3, 2015), surveillance technologies in contemporary societies (v. 29, n. 2, 2015), neoliberalism, immigration, human right (v. 28, n. 5/6, 2014), feminism and neoliberalism (v. 28, n. 3, 2014), relations between colonialism and modernity (v. 26, n. 5, 2012), convergence culture (v. 25, n. 5/4, 2011), transnationalisms and hybridizations of global cultural forms on environmental issues (v. 22, n. 3/4, 2008), among several other topics that show the comprehensiveness of interests of researchers acting in the field of Cultural Studies and the internationalization processes observed in these studies.

Articulations between Cultural Studies and fields of knowledge, such as Communication (v. 29, n. 1, 2015), Law (v. 28, n. 5/6, 2014) and Education (v. 25, n. 1, 2011), are also addressed in articles of this journal, as well as some issues emphasizing the importance of studies conducted by authors like Graeme Turner (v. 29, n. 4, 2015), Stuart Hall (v. 29, n. 1, 2015) and Richard Hoggart (v. 29, n. 2, 2015) for the field of Cultural Studies and which report their deaths.

Considering the multiplicity of topics and topics addressed in the journal and articles written by Australian, Canadian, Chinese, South Korean, North American, African, Finnish, Indian, Japanese, Slovenian, English, Colombian, Argentinean and other researchers, it was surprising to note this journal has not included studies conducted in Brazil, or by Brazilian academicians, in the field of Cultural Studies over its 31 years. Also surprising was an issue about institutionalization of Latin American Cultural Studies (v. 25, n. 1, 2011) that includes articles written by and interviews with researchers of Cultural Studies from Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and North America. In fact, the only reference to Brazil is an apology made by the dossier organizers - Gregory J. Lobo and Jeffrey Cedeño, professors of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in Bogota, and Chloe Rutter-Jensen, professor of the Universidad de los Andes - for not including any comments about institutionalization of Cultural Studies in Brazil.

Our surprise increased when we noticed the absence of studies by Brazilian authors in the International Journal of Cultural Studies (a publication of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States, issued by Sage, whose editor-in-chief is Jonathan Gray, professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University), in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, and in the Open Cultural Studies journal. The European Journal of Cultural Studies has been published since 1998 by Sage, whose editors are Pertti Alasuutari (Tampere University, Finland), Jon Cruz (University of California, United States), Ann Gray (Lincoln School of Film & Media, United Kingdom), and Joke Hermes (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Open Cultural Studies, a journal created in 2017 and whose editor-in-chief is Professor Toby Miller1, is published once a year, featuring a high number of articles available online.

Therefore, if only these publications above are considered when analyzing investigations conducted in the field of Cultural Studies, no references will be found from Brazil, as these journals show a gap or lack of knowledge about the interest and impact of this field analyzed in academic studies in Brazil.

The purpose of this study is not to analyze the reasons for such gap, as it may involve lack of interest of Brazilian researchers in submitting their articles to such journals, or their preference for journals from closer regions, where their Cultural Studies have more important connections, such as gender studies, postcolonial studies, ethnic and racial studies, etc. Instead, this article aims to highlight the academic Cultural Studies produced in Brazil.

The intention is not to cover all initiatives, actions and situations involved with the production of Cultural Studies in Brazil. This review is focused on some fields and the identification of some studies published on more easily found journals, including those on the internet.

Three main methodological procedures guided this review of Cultural Studies: (a) the first procedure involved a comprehensive search on the main international journals of Cultural Studies: Cultural Studies, International Journal of Cultural Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Open Cultural Studies; (b) the second methodological procedure involved a search on Google Scholar and other specific academic research platforms, looking for signs of Cultural Studies in multiple research fields in Brazil; (c) the third methodological procedure involved an investigation of institutional affiliations, research groups, résumés on Lattes platform, and interviews available online - university websites, personal websites - and other information that could place a researcher in a broader academic context. Finally, researchers were grouped according to their different fields of knowledge and by concepts and/or topics in common.

Although aware of the fact that this review does not cover all initiatives, the authors find it important as it attempts to gather studies conducted in different regions of Brazil.

Impact of Cultural Studies on different fields of knowledge in Brazil

In the field of Communication, in southern Brazil, Cultural Studies were promoted with the publication of Uma introdução aos Estudos Culturais (Introduction to Cultural Studies), by Ana Carolina Escosteguy (1998). In this article, the author - then a professor at the School of Social Communication at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (Famecos PUCRS), attending a doctoral degree program at the School of Communication and Arts of Universidade de São Paulo (ECA USP) and having studied at the Department of Cultural Studies and Sociology at the University of Birmingham2 - presented some ideas of authors analyzing the field of Social Communication and about issues related to journalism, advertising and marketing, in the perspective of Cultural Studies conducted in Great Britain and the United States in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It was addressed the concept of audience; acceptance of different contents by a certain audience; media encoding/decoding; other formulations regarding the concept of culture, popular culture, hegemonic culture, etc.; a notion of content, text and message; among others. In this sense, Escosteguy systematized the ideas of Stuart Hall3, David Morley4, James Curran5, George Yudice6, Paul Willis7, Martin Barker8, Chen Kuan-Hsing9, Graeme Turner10 etc., aiming to introduce in this field “[...] those who start studying communication theories” (Escosteguy, 1998, p. 87).

Three years later, in Cartografias dos Estudos Culturais: uma versão latino-americana (Cartography of Cultural Studies: a Latin American version), Escosteguy (2001) presented contexts, singularities and authors of Cultural Studies in Latin America, including Carlos Monsiváis11, Guillermo Orozco Gómez12, Rossana Reguillo13, Guillermo Sunkel, José Joaquín Brunner, Beatriz Sarlo14, Renato Ortiz from Brazil (whose studies will be addressed later) and, in particular, Néstor García Canclini15 and Jesús Martín-Barbero16, considered “[...] key figures in shaping a perspective of Cultural Studies on Latin America” (Escosteguy, 2001, p. 41). In an article published in 2004, Escosteguy provided specific considerations about Cultural Studies in Brazil, noting that, until that moment, there were “[...] very few contributions about the Brazilian reception of Cultural Studies and rare studies with an Anglo-Saxon approach to cultural analysis” (Escosteguy, 2004, p. 19). This article also mentions the efforts of Fernando Correia Dias, then professor of the Department of Sociology at the Universidade de Brasília, who, in a text published in 199417, analyzed cultural topics of the Brazilian reality in the sociological thinking of the country. Escosteguy also discussed analyses conducted in 2003 by Maria Elisa Cevasco, English literature professor at the Universidade de São Paulo18, and Luiz Roberto Alves, then USP ECA professor, who claim a Brazilian perspective similar to the British narrative of Cultural Studies, but earlier than that19 observed, for instance, in Antonio Cândido’s considerations (Escosteguy, 2004, p. 19).

About 15 years after these considerations, several studies report how, in the Brazilian context, Cultural Studies have been positively connected with different fields of study. Some of these studies are presented here. Of note, in 1986, CIEC - Coordenação Interdisciplinar de Estudos Culturais (Interdisciplinary Coordination of Cultural Studies)20 was created, headed by Professor Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda21, at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which promoted other initiatives, such as the creation of the Postgraduate Research Laboratory of the UFRJ School of Communication in 1994, which had important researchers in the field of culture. Currently named Coordenação Interdisciplinar de Estudos Contemporâneos (Interdisciplinary Coordination of Contemporary Studies), this research center is linked with the Postgraduate Program in Communication and Culture of the UFRJ School of Communication. Linked with this center, which has three research lines - Culture and Identity; City and Communication Studies; and Image, Aesthetics and Powers22 -, Professor Liv Sovik (2003; 2009) has made significant contributions to the field of Cultural Studies in Brazil, having translated and organized the publication of an important number of studies by Stuart Hall, gathered in Da diáspora: identidades e mediações culturais: Stuart Hall, a book published in 2003, and Aqui ninguém é branco, published in 2009.

Also linked with this Postgraduate Program, João Freire Filho (2007)23, professor at the School of Communication of UFRJ, studies fans in youth cultures in Reinvenções da resistência juvenil: os Estudos Culturais e as micropolíticas do cotidiano. He builds fans as active subjects, “[...] astute consumer, able to creatively process the senses of mass circulation products, hereby developing a varied set of practices, identities and new artifacts” (Freire Filho, 2007, p. 82) - therefore, far from the theories usually derived from Psychiatry and Psychology, which are hegemonic when analyzing this stage of life. As a producer of contents, practices and ways of life, fans, in a participatory and collaborative way, would significantly drive contemporary culture. Other studies by João Freire Filho address aesthetics as cultural production (Freire Filho, 2009), the passion of fans on social media and hate discourse (Freire Filho, 2013), the rhetoric of happiness as a contemporary value (Freire Filho, 2010; 2017), etc.

In the context of Communication Studies conducted in the south region of Brazil, Nilda Jacks, professor at School of Library Science and Communication of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), wrote about Reception Studies in Brazil the article: O legado de Stuart Hall para os Estudos de Recepção no Brasil (Jacks; Wottrich, 2016), the book: Mediação & Midiatização (Mattos; Janotti Junior; Jacks, 2012), the book: Comunicação e Recepção (Jacks; Escosteguy, 2005), and Meios e audiências III: reconfigurações dos Estudos de Recepção e consumo midiático no Brasil (Jacks; Piedras; Pieniz; John, 2017). According to Jacks and Wottrich (2016), Stuart Hall’s thought reaches the field of communication in Brazil through Encoding, decoding24 - that is, linked with Reception Studies, audience surveys, the topic of identities in post-modernity and cultural mediations, in the context of “[...] growth of Postgraduate Programs in Communication [and] greater participation of professors and students in international congresses” (Jacks; Wottrich, 2016, p. 162).

It is important to emphasize the centrality of theories produced by Stuart Hall’s thought in the field of Communication: (a) first, the author is contrary to the notion of content as “[...] a predefined and fixed meaning or message, which can be analyzed in terms of transmission from a sender to a receiver” (Hall, 2003, p. 354); (b) Hall is also contrary to the meaning of unilinearity and unidirectional flow of the message - that is, a (still) usual and traditional understanding that “[...] the sender originates the message, and the message is very unidimensional, and the receiver receives it” (Hall, 2003, p. 354) - and by discussing about the traditionally consolidated sender/receiver model25, Hall becomes a ubiquitous author, assuming “[... ] the central role of a promoter of theoretical discussions” (Jacks; Wottrich, 2016, p. 166).

In the same regional context, Flavi Ferreira Lisboa Filho, from Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), develops studies around the concepts of cultural identity and representation based on Hall and explores culture as a methodology for research in the field of Communication. The researcher, linked with the Postgraduate Program in Communication of UFSM, has recently published studies about the representations of women and gaucho style in local media (Henriques; Lisboa Filho, 2017a; 2017b), the multiple meanings involving the gaucho border (Lisboa Filho; Pozza, 2017), issues related to distinct media products (such as Brazilian reality shows and the journalistic discourse), production of gaucho youth identities in multiple media outlets, etc. Lisboa Filho, with the collaboration of Baptista, sought to compile investigations conducted in Brazil and Portugal into an e-book entitled Estudos Culturais e interfaces: objetos, metodologias e desenhos de investigação (Lisboa Filho; Baptista, 2016).

Still in the field of Social Communication, authors such as Saraí Schmidt (Postgraduate Program in Cultural Diversity and Social Inclusion at Universidade Feevale) and Tatiana de Oliveira Amêndola Sanches (research group on Subjectivity, Communication and Consumption linked with the Postgraduate Program in Communication and Consumption Practices of the Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing and Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado) use Cultural Studies to inspire their own studies. Schmidt’s studies address topics such as contemporary youth and childhood (Mentz; Schmidt, 2018; Fioravante; Schmidt, 2018), media and consumer culture (Pilger; Schmidt, 2017; Constante; Schmidt, 2017; Horlle; Schmidt, 2017; Pilger; Schmidt, 2016), that is, a border zone involving the fields of Social Communication, Cultural Studies, and Education. On the other hand, the studies developed by Sanches (2011) and colleagues are focused on very different aspects of contemporary culture, such as the phenomenon of cosplay, urban graffiti, culture gamification, Brazilian reality shows, American TV shows, etc.

Although this study has mentioned a limited number of studies, it seeks to identify perspectives (which are not always a coincidence) more often addressed in such combination between Cultural Studies and the field of Communication. Renato Ortiz26, one of the most famous authors out of Brazil and considered a representative of Cultural Studies conducted in Brazil, highlights the role of schools of communication in promoting these studies and the tense relations that guide associations between Cultural Studies and knowledge of Social Sciences. According to him,

[...] Cultural Studies penetrate from the edges, that is, using Bourdieu’s expression, in the periphery of the hierarchical field of social sciences, particularly in schools of communication (which certainly demonstrates conservatism of disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and literature). However, even so, none of them aims to change its institutional statute (Ortiz, 2004, p. 120-121).

His comments in the same article address processes involved in the disciplinary consolidation of the field of Social Sciences in the United States and Brazil and indicate late institutionalization of these sciences in Brazil (Ortiz, 2004, p. 122). Perhaps, it explains the resistance of these sciences to proposals of multidisciplinarity/interdisciplinarity/transdisciplinarity associated with Cultural Studies. Ortiz relativizes criticisms to specialization, emphasizing that, despite an impression that it is more linked with “[...] the interests of professional groups that dispute research funds and roles of authority in the intellectual field” (Ortiz, 2004, p. 122), a disciplinary view may allow more detailed analysis of certain events. He also points out that it is inappropriate to think of multidisciplinarity as synonymous with end of borders, because borders have relational value and articulate with disciplinary truths. So, “[...] disciplinary horizons are not an obstacle to be pulled down, but as a starting point of a journey between compartmentalized knowledge” (Ortiz, 2004, p. 122).

In fact, contrary to the direction of certain disciplinary segments regarding culture27, multidisciplinary approaches started to discuss about the effect on the analysis of cultural phenomena, in a movement where the universe of culture “[...] is perceived as a crossroads of different intentions, as if it were a space of convergence of different movements and rhythms: economy, social relations, technology, etc.” (Ortiz, 2004, p. 124).

Tense relations are also present in articulations between literature and Cultural Studies because of the disputes involving disciplinary relations, as reported by Ortiz (2004), and disputes resulting from adjustments to Cultural Studies since they emerged 54 years ago at the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. As highlighted by Eneida Leal Cunha28 (2005), Cultural Studies aroused both rejection and adherence in the context of Brazilian Literary Studies, a situation that, according to the author, has involved reluctance in the way postgraduate programs in this field generally refer to the inclusion of these studies in their lines of research.

Rejection, according to Pontes Júnior (2014, p. 17), is due to “[...] discredit of critics concerned about literary particularities and delimitation of the field of comparativism as excluding literary (nearly science) theory.” On the other hand, adherence refers to the flexibility of the field of Cultural Studies and the agreement to perform revisions “[...] of a theory in crisis in the face of heterodox diversity, which emerged in troubled late 20th century” (Pontes Júnior, 2014, p. 17)29.

A very controversial view of these relations is provided by Maria Elisa Cevasco (2014), who emphasizes the foundational role of USP and some of its professors - Antonio Candido (1918-2017)30, one of the icons of Brazilian intellectuality, Roberto Schwarz (1938)31 and Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes (1916-1977)32 - had in Cultural Studies in Brazil. Cevasco points out that, although these authors do not recognize themselves as linked with Cultural Studies, their literary production33 has some connection with the analyses conducted by Raymond Williams34, an author who, according to her, has attributes of cultural criticism. In her view, “[...] Cultural Studies in Brazil should have a historical change to a materialist perspective” (Cevasco, 2014, p. 1), in view of the progressive loss, in more recent years, of political purposes and social criticism. The author strongly criticizes the versions of Cultural Studies that emphasize culturalization of politics - those who think that “[...] the only possible politics is cultural politics” (Cevasco, 2003a). This position would show commodification of this discipline in its internationalization process, starting in the United States of America35 (Cevasco, 2016, p. 210-211), which is the version that would have been disseminated in Brazil. Even when she reports that “[...] Cultural Studies were not the only discipline to be impacted by banalization, one of the many consequences of today’s lifestyle, which does not favor deep knowledge” (Cevasco, 2016, p. 206), the regression she pointed out would result from “[...] a strong trend to make theory by theory, not linked with the historical social dimensions” (Cevasco, 2003a). However, the relations sought between Cultural Studies and Literary Studies are not fully described in these considerations as they focus on aspects related to these studies mentioned above. Once again we emphasize here the important role played by Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda and Beatriz Resende, both linked with the field of Literary Studies, in the creation of PACC - Programa Avançado de Cultura Contemporânea (Advanced Program of Contemporary Culture), a teaching and research project developed by the UFRJ Center for Philosophy and Human Sciences. Also important were the achievements resulting from this project: Prossiga/REI de Estudos Culturais, an information repository for network research organized by CNPq and supported by Faperj - Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (the Rio de Janeiro State Research Support Foundation) and an editorial center that currently publishes the E-NEWS and Revista Z, with the coordination of Beatriz Resende, professor at UFRJ School of Language Studies. Of note, Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda36 is the author and organizer of several studies focused on gender relations, cultural diversity, marginal literature and poetry, and singular Brazilian cultural productions, among other topics and approaches that have made her an active and bold professional, a true tsunami that goes beyond academic parameters. Beatriz Resende (2004) also addresses in her texts a variety of topics related to the Brazilian cultural context. In her Estudos Literários, Estudos Nacionais, Estudos Culturais: reflexões em diálogo, she analyzes the proposal of the field of Brazilian Studies37 as part of the group of new Latin American Studies, articulating with (not opposed to) Cultural Studies. Reporting her appreciation of Cultural Studies being presented as studies, Resende (2004) points out that it is related to the provisionality and openness that these studies offer to deal with many doubts in troubled early 21st century. Regarding the Brazilian Studies, the author questions the use of a restrictive and delimiting designation of territory that seems to promote the affirmation of an identity, which can be both mithfying and excluding38. When emphasizing the existence of a new range of knowledge and cultural expressions that are not addressed by existing disciplines, Resende (2004) shows some connections with Ortiz (2004), when referring to the importance of articulations between studies of her field and Cultural Studies. As the author points out,

[...] the possibility of recognizing the complex, the different, the other is found in cultural plurality, in the recognition of various subjectivities, in multiple identities and in the certainty that, for instance, the Brazilian literature contains many Brazilian literatures, that Brazil contains many Brazils (Resende, 2004).

Regarding the articulations between Anthropology and Cultural Studies, José Jorge de Carvalho39 has developed an important work in Encontro de Saberes, a project developed at the Universidade de Brasília. As Carvalho (2010) reports, in this project, professors of traditional Latin American knowledge (shamans, artisans, indigenous architects, musicians, specialists in medicinal plants) are professors of regular course offered by the university. According to him,

[...] Cultural Studies, as critical studies of culture, must provide the theoretical, methodological and political basis so that Latin American universities, constituted as white, excluding, racist and dedicated to reproducing only modern Eurocentric knowledge, can finally be what they should have been since their creation: multi-epistemic centers of study, open to all knowledge created and existing in our continent, such as Western, indigenous, Afro-American, and traditional knowledge (Carvalho, 2010, p. 230).

Carvalho (2010) points out Cultural Studies have a new role in Latin America, as they are a non-sectarian, interdisciplinary and fundamentally eclectic proposal, in contrast to canonical disciplines. Some years before, Carvalho (2001) summarized the importance of an articulation between Cultural Studies and Anthropology Studies, emphasizing Cultural Studies

[...] advanced in a fundamentally interdisciplinary field (including even some of what, less than thirty years ago, was considered of exclusive interest to anthropologists) and led by Stuart Hall’s theoretical proposals, they propose a new approach to an ethnography of contemporary cultural expressions, reformulating the existing models of interpretation of topics such as identity, race relations, sexuality, ethnic belonging, cultural hybridism, etc. (Carvalho, 2001, p. 108).

We also highlight studies developed by Neusa Maria Mendes de Gusmão40, as this author does not have such an optimistic view as Carvalho’s regarding the role that Cultural Studies would assume in articulations with Anthropology. In addition, her studies refer to an attempt to discuss relations that have been built over time involving the fields of Anthropology, Cultural Studies and Education. By referring to the fact that Anthropology is a science that emerged in modernity and, therefore, built its theoretical basis in the past, Gusmão highlights many controversies resulting from the insufficiency concerning the use of certain explanatory principles of this science. Gusmão (2008) also mentions tension in this field of study, considering that

[...] it is now argued that the trajectory of Anthropology has been to evaluate social, ethnic and other differences to provide alternative intervention on social reality not to deny the differences; and that anthropological tradition would not be sufficient to cover the political context of differences and, as such, would not fulfill its purposes (Gusmão, 2008, p. 48).

Human sciences were inserted in this context, in the second half of the 20th century, when the author reports a search for alternatives based on postmodern currents for Cultural Studies. Despite the gaps she finds in Cultural Studies, notably in North American Studies, and the reduction of North American Anthropology to Cultural Studies, the author highlights the importance of issues that these studies, when associated with Postmodern Studies, can bring up, but without denying credits to Anthropology.

From searches on the internet, we also identified articles that address connections between Cultural Studies and Political Economy, Cultural Studies and Health, and Cultural Studies and Arts, which are not addressed in this study.

Presence of Cultural Studies in education

Three articles particularly present a broad review of the impact of Cultural Studies on Education in Brazil: Estudos Culturais, Educação e pedagogia (Costa; Silveira; Sommer, 2003), Sobre a emergência e a expansão dos Estudos Culturais em educação no Brasil (Wortmann; Costa; Silveira, 2015), and Contribuições dos Estudos Culturais às pesquisas sobre currículo: uma revisão (Costa; Wortmann; Bonin, 2016). These articles report Cultural Studies for the first time in the field of Education in mid-1990s, in the UFRGS Postgraduate Program in Education (PPGEDU), when a group of professors (Tomaz Tadeu da Silva, Guacira Lopes Louro, Alfredo Veiga-Neto, Marisa Vorraber Costa, Rosa Maria Hessel Silveira, Maria Lúcia Wortmann, and Norma Marzola) started to discuss - inspired by texts, concepts and authors linked with critical theory, post-structuralism and Cultural Studies - some assumptions of theories then prevailing in the field of Education in the country. This group of professors founded in 1996 the research line Cultural Studies in Education41, which in 2018 had nine professors whose studies address: deaf studies (Karnopp and Thoma); Foucault studies (Veiga-Neto and Traversini); pedagogical curriculum and practices (Veiga-Neto, Costa and Wanderer); body and health policies associated with the medicalization of school and society (Santos); science and technology studies (Santos and Wortmann); cultural pedagogies (Costa, Santos, Wortmann and Silveira); connections between texts, discourses, education, children’s literature, the topic of difference (Silveira and Karnopp); the processes of inclusion/exclusion in contemporary school (Veiga-Neto, Traversini and Thoma); etc.

In methodological and investigative terms, according to Veiga-Neto (2000), the field was initially organized around three fields of focus: Ethnographic Studies (addressing dimensions of school institutions, cities and different social institutions); textual and discursive analyses (literature, media artifacts, government documents, laws, etc.); and analysis of representation and identity policies related to race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. These investigative segments have multiplied over the years - and today we see virtual ethnographies (developed in games, apps, social media, etc.), visual analyses, and analyses of the biopolitics that organize the social fabric replacing ethnographies. In addition, the analysis of cultural pedagogies appears as an important and distinctive trend in the field of Cultural Studies in Education in Brazil. In the first studies conducted at the UFRGS and ULBRA Postgraduate Programs, an ‘umbrella’ expression - cultural pedagogies - was adopted to refer to organizations not generally considered educational, but driven by literary, religious, entertainment, commercial, and other interests, which operate, as Giroux (1994; 2008) argues, in the production of identities and in the production and legitimation of knowledge, even though their effects are not the same for everyone they interact. The author conducted studies in the 1990s about Disney and important large international companies and corporations that govern world capital, with strong effect on cultural productions: they not only produce entertainment or spread disinterested news, but also ensure in their cultural productions consumption patterns shaped by advertising. The studies conducted by Douglas Kellner (2001; 2008) were also frequently used to support the analysis of cultural artifacts, and such studies strongly assumed assumptions of critical theories.

Over time, other large companies assumed a place in our contemporary societies, including those that manage the production and circulation of digital media (such as extinct Orkut, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, mobile apps, among others). At the same time, other approaches, such as those adopted by Henry Jenkins (2006) and Jenkins, Green and Ford (2015), were adopted by authors linked with Cultural Studies to record the intense changes in media production and consumption. Jenkins (2006) coined the term ‘convergence culture’ to refer to the “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 2). As reported by this author, in Convergence Culture, “[…] where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 259-260). In addition, other studies combine literature, education and Cultural Studies, such as those by Edgar Kirchoff (2013; 2016), incorporating Jenkins’ approaches to performing analysis of Media and Literature that is organized and posted on digital media.

Review studies point to another direction, addressing the concept of cultural pedagogies (Andrade; Costa, 2015; Camozzato; Costa, 2013; Camozzato, 2012). According to Wortmann, Costa and Silveira (2015, p. 38), these studies point to “[...] proliferation and pluralization of pedagogies, an expression of refinement in the arts of governing, regulating and leading subjects”. As Camozzato and Costa (2013) pointed out, we live in a time when more and more pedagogies are invented to try to address all issues in a context of problems in education. In fact, the authors attribute a mark to these multiple pedagogies to distinguish them, which was stated in the expression ‘pedagogical will,’ discussed by Camozzato (2012) in his doctoral dissertation.

Far from discussing all studies that have been produced in the field of Cultural Studies - studies developed in different postgraduate programs that, in the form of research lines, fields of interest, or even more targeted works, using the perspective of Cultural Studies as a matrix of intelligibility for the development of analyses (notably PPGEDU at ULBRA and PPGEDU at UFRGS; the research groups of several universities, such as Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, among others), the Brazilian Seminars on Cultural Studies in Education/International Seminars on Cultural Studies and Education, held since 2004 in partnership between ULBRA and UFRGS; Textura, a magazine that has been issued since 2011 by PPGEDU at ULBRA, which reformulated the journal to address more topics of Cultural Studies and Literary Studies to a great extent - we want to highlight the materiality and political academic relevance of these studies in the Brazilian context.

Final Remarks

To conclude this study, some political academic considerations are provided related to the studies performed in Brazil and the Latin American Cultural Studies, showing for instance that in Brazil: (a) different fields and topics have been addressed in Cultural Studies, perhaps to broaden the disciplinary discussions of more traditional fields of knowledge, as mentioned before, besides Education, Sociology, Anthropology, Literature and Communication; (b) for many reasons - probably related to the way Cultural Studies first appeared in the field of Education and their marginal character in relation to traditional disciplines - a dialogue with other fields of knowledge seeking legitimacy may have not allowed articulations with other local, national or Latin American scenarios/institutions. If this hypothesis were true, it would partly explain the invisibility of Brazilian Cultural Studies in the Latin American scenario and in international journals of this field: they are marginal within academically instituted disciplines, with few articulations and little political strength to grow beyond its borders (including the linguistic border between Brazil and other Latin American countries); (c) on the other hand, as reported by Cevasco (2003a), perhaps the appropriation of British Cultural Studies by North American authors, which in turn came to Brazil in mid-1990s, probably marked, with a founding effect, a direction for studies that may initially have moved away from the Latin American discussions, at least regarding a more politically engaged agenda of discussions; (d) sparsely, and probably with few theoretical articulations and displacements from one field to another - except, perhaps, for education, which used Anthropology, Sociology, Communication, Literature, and other disciplines closer to Cultural Studies - a sui generis/peculiar body of discussions was developed, which has different connections with issues equally faced by Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America42 (related to the Eurocentric matrix in universities and other political and social institutions), issues of social, ethnic/racial and gender inequalities, depreciation of traditional and urban local cultures to the detriment of transnational forms dictated by the market economy, among others)43.

1Professor Emeritus of the department of Media & Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside, USA, director of the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at the Loughborough University, London, UK, and president of the Cultural Studies Association (2019-2021).

2More information about Ana Carolina Escosteguy: <>. Accessed on: May 31, 2018.

3Many texts in Portuguese (academic and newspaper/magazine texts) were produced following Stuart Hall’s death in February 2014.

4Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

5Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

6George Yúdice has a text in this dossier. More information about the author: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

7Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

8Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

9Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 31, 2018.

10Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 31, 2018.

11Mexican writer and political activist Carlos Monsiváis died in 2010. Wikipedia page on him: <>; interview in Spanish: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

12Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 29, 2018.

13Interview in Spanish with Rosanna Reguillo (professor at Universidad Jesuíta de Guadalajara, Mexico): <>. Accessed on: May 29, 2018.

14An interview with Beatriz Sarlo was conducted by Blanco and Jackson (2009).

15Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 30, 2018.

16Available at: <>. Accessed on: May 29, 2018.

17Escosteguy talks about Dias (1994).

18Escosteguy’s comment refers to Cevasco (2003b).

19 Jesús Martín Barbero (2010) systematized in a text included in the book titled En torno a los Estudios Culturales: localidades, trayectorias y disputas, organized by Nelly Richards in 2010, Editorial Arcis/CLACSO, a statement he had made in the 1990s about studies conducted in Spanish-speaking countries in America, mentioning studies conducted by Cuban Fernando Ortiz (1881-1969), Mexican Alfonso Reys (1889-1959), Peruvian José Carlos Mariáteguy (1895-1930) and Argentinean José Luis Romero (1909-1977), among others, and noting that “[...] we produced cultural studies much before other people put this label on them” (Barbero, 2010, p. 133).

20The website that presents this project highlights that it was designed and created in response to the growing importance of an emerging field of research - Cultural Studies - which seeks to fulfill the need to re-evaluate the traditional theoretical-methodological frameworks of research about culture, defining new fields of focus and interpretation that can address the growing complexity of national societies, and supranational formations that mark the logic of cultural and economic relations in the contemporary world. Available at: <>. Accessed on: June 20, 2018.

21Information about Professor Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda was obtained from her personal website: <>. Accessed on: June 20, 2018.

22Available at: <>. Accessed on: June 22, 2018.

23Available at: <>. Accessed on: July 9, 2018.

24Text translated by Ana Carolina Escosteguy and Francisco Rüdiger and published in Da diáspora: identidades e mediações culturais, organized by Liv Sovik (2003).

25Hall discusses about a particular model of communication analysis and its messages, which is considered too deterministic. For him, it is a rather naive idea to consider that meanings and the communicational process are transparent: “[...] a message is a complex structure of meanings that is not as simple as one may think. Reception is not something open and perfectly transparent that happens at the other end of the communication chain” (Sovik, 2003, p. 354). Hall similarly contests the idea that media reproduce a broader ideological universe (through the encoding/decoding process). It is not a dominant ideology jumping into a TV show or a magazine and then jumping out in the process of decoding with audiences: the author rejects the idea that there would be na original moment or beginning of the encoding and decoding process - and a being or entity responsible for repetition (via media) of something that already exists socially (Hall, 2003).

26Ortiz is a professor at the Department of Sociology at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). In the text, he reports that he became aware that he would be a practitioner of Cultural Studies in Berlin in 1995 at a conference organized by Hermann Herlinghaus, a professor of Latin American Literature at the University of Freiburg, Germany and an expert in several fields, such as Cultural and Media Studies, Anthropology, History of Science, among others. He highlights that his Brazilian colleagues simply see him as a sociologist or an anthropologist, although his writings poorly fit the existing disciplinary boundaries and are appreciated in fields such as Literary Criticism, Architecture, Geography and Communication.

27 Ortiz (2004) highlighted that the tradition of Social Sciences, in their different disciplinary branches, confined the sphere of culture to certain specificities: literature addressed it from an aesthetic discussion; anthropology addressed the understanding of indigenous societies, folklore and popular culture; and history addressed reflections about civilizations (today reinvigorated with the emergence of globalization). Then, according to him, Literary Studies had little to do with sociological analysis, anthropology hardly articulated with the modern dimension of mass culture, and so on.

28Da cultura das disciplinas, by professor Eneida Leal Cunha (Universidade Federal da Bahia) (2005), is very elucidative about the disputes involving the relations between Literary Studies and Cultural Studies.

29 Pontes Júnior (2014) states that these controversies were addressed at the meetings of the Associação Brasileira de Literatura Comparada (Abralic) and, especially, the 1996 meeting, whose topic was expressed in the question: Comparative Literature = Cultural Studies?

30Sociologist Antonio Candido was also a literary critic and professor at USP School of Philosophy, Language Studies and Human Sciences (FFLCH).

31Schwarz was a professor at FFLCH of USP and Unicamp, and a literary critic, poet and playwright.

32Salles Gomes was a professor at Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp), and an essayist and film critic.

33 Cevasco (2003a) mentions the books Duas Meninas, by Roberto Schwarz, and Os parceiros do rio bonito, by Antonio Cândido, as avant la lettre Cultural Studies.

34Williams is one of the most important names in the group from the University of Birmingham, UK.

35 Cevasco (2016) refers to American Lawrence Grossberg and British Angela McRobbie as representatives of this version and highlights they were students of the first postgraduate program in Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK.

36Hollanda currently coordinates the Laboratory of Social Technologies at the Universidade das Quebradas, an extension project linked with the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

37In 2015, the Rede Europeia de Brasilianistas de Análise Cultural (REBRAC) conducted in London the II REBRAC International Conference, whose slogan was “Brazilian cultural studies, remapped!”

38 Resende (2004) considers the possibility of such studies becoming useless, illusory or, perhaps, even dangerous, just as any other separatist or fundamentalist reflection, if not analyzed in association with current issues of contemporary society, from which we build our reflections.

39Carvalho is a professor of the Department of Anthropology at Universidade de Brasília and a senior researcher at the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico (CNPq). He is also the coordinator of the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia da Inclusão no Ensino Superior.

40Professor of the Department of Social Sciences in Education, the Postgraduate Program in Education, and the Doctor’s Degree Program in Social Sciences (Anthropology) of Unicamp.

41Available at: <>. Accessed on: June 18, 2018.

42We emphasize the Spanish language in Latin America in an attempt to justify the lack of integration between the studies developed in Brazil and in other Latin American countries, which could be a language obstacle.

43This article is part of the Thematic Section, Cultural Studies, organized by Maria Lúcia Castagna Wortmann (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), Luís Henrique Sacchi dos Santos (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), Iara Tatiana Bonin (Universidade Luterana do Brasil) and Daniela Ripoll (Universidade Luterana do Brasil).


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Received: December 26, 2018; Accepted: May 09, 2019

Maria Lúcia Castagna Wortmann holds a master’s degree in Education and a PhD in Human Sciences from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, a doctor’s degree from Université Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie), Paris, France. Visiting professor at the postgraduate program in Education of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and assistant professor at the postgraduate program of Universidade Luterana do Brasil. She works in the field of Cultural Studies in education and Cultural Studies in science. ORCID: Email:

Luís Henrique Sacchi dos Santos is an associate professor of the Department of Education and Curriculum of the School of Education and coordinator of the postgraduate program in education of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). He has experience with Cultural Studies in education, body studies, body and health, somatic culture, science and biology education, health education (health promotion), research ethics, medicalization, biosociability, citizen biology, and biopedagogies. ORCID: Email:

Daniela Ripoll holds a degree in biological sciences from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (1998), a master’s degree in education from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (2001), and a doctor’s degree in education from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (2005). She is a professor of the postgraduate program in education of Universidade Luterana do Brasil, and has experience in education, focusing on Cultural Studies in education, mainly working with education, Cultural Studies, science and biology education. ORCID: Email:

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