Throughout my three months, I was based at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Upon arrival in mid-September, I had an informal meeting with Prof Laura Izarra to arrange further details of my work plan and get to know the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) campus. During my time at USP, I continued working on a range of co-authored international journal articles and also engaged in a number of international high school visits for Trinity’s Global Relations Office.
My research linked particularly with WP5 of SPECTRESS, and addresses the following two questions: (1) How do the forces of immigration (increasing multiculturalism) and emigration (building diasporic communities) create internal challenges and external points of reflection; (2) How do competing forms of communal identity – regional, and multiple national, but also gender, family, class, professional etc. – coexist with, complement or compete with emergent national scripts? In particular, how do nations comprised of strongly identified regional or multiethnic identities fare differently? I was able to discuss these questions with a range of scholars at USP. Prior to me departure for São Paulo, I had already met Prof Sergio Adorno, Dean of FFLCH, during his visit to Trinity to discuss collaborations at USP and identified a cluster of researchers on identity, migration and comparative sociology.
In October, I delivered the opening keynote entitled ‘Migration, Religion and Education in Ireland during and after the Celtic Tiger’ at the conference Encontro de Pós-Graduandos em Estudos Linguísticos e Literários em Inglês (EPOGELLI) at USP:
In addition, I regularly participated in the University’s postgraduate and staff reading group where I presented my latest work on ‘Religion and Education in Ireland: child agency, ethos and leadership in Community National Schools’. In late October, I also took part in a meeting discussing cooperation between Trinity and USP and further internationalisation and partnership opportunities. This included the Consul of Ireland (Barry Tumelty), the USP Provost for International Cooperation (Prof Raul Machado Neto), a USP staff representative (Prof Laura Izarra) and my colleague Prof Ruth Barton from Trinity whose own SPECTRESS fellowship overlapped with my stay.
During my time in São Paulo, I was fortunate to have other Trinity colleagues who not only helped me settle in but also met up with me outside the academic terrain on numerous occasions (Prof Ruth Barton from Film Studies, Stephen O’Neill from English). I vividly recall us exploring Avenida Paulista and the buzz there is especially on a Sunday when the main avenue is closed for traffic and turns into a music, cultural and outdoor work-out zone for the ‘gym-obsessed’ Brazilians:
I stayed just off Avenida Paulista in the Jardins area which is perfect for exploring the city. I visited most parts of the city including Liberdade (the Japanese quarter), Pateo do Collegio (the city foundation in 1554), Sé Cathedral, the Municipal Market where we ate the giant 500gr mortadella sandwich, Pacaembu Stadium (where Pelé scored 115 of his 1,000 career goals), Vila Madalena and its spectacular graffiti in Batman’s Alley, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Paulista (with its History of Sexuality exhibition), and Ibirapuera Park. The Skye Bar on the rooftop of Hotel Unique is a real gem, and further must-dos to add to your educational and cultural experience include tasting the most famous Brazilian dessert – acai – and eating in Fogo de Chão (a churrascaria):
Upon return to Trinity in December, I continued to engage in a research application under the CAPES programme, with the support of Trinity’s Global Relations Office. CAPES is a Foundation within the Ministry of Education in Brazil whose central purpose is to coordinate efforts to improve the quality of Brazil’s faculty and staff in higher education through grant programs.
All in all, I had an amazing time in São Paulo and was able to combine an active research period with new cultural experiences within and beyond São Paulo (the diversity of Brazil, especially the contrast between the affluent South and the Afro-Brazilian areas such as Salvador are impressive especially when seen through my sociological lens), and recruiting students from high schools.