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Program Locations

Overseas Seminars - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Rio de Janeiro: A Cultural and Political Social History
Study in Brazil with Beatriz Magaloni

Arrival Date in Rio de Janeiro: July 1 2013
Departure Date from Rio de Janeiro: July 21, 2013

Information Session: Wednesday, October 17, 12:15pm - 1:30pm

@ Room 029 Ground Floor, Sweet Hall


Host of the next Soccer World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016), Rio de Janeiro is the best port of entry to know Brazil’s past and present history. The “marvelous city” was Brazil’s joint capital for 320 years (from 1640 to 1960, when Brasilia was founded). What remains from this past in contemporary Rio? How is present Rio being prepared to Brazil’s developed future? How is the city confronting its greatest challenges while maintaining its character?

This seminar comprises three weeks of an on-the-ground experience in Rio de Janeiro. The seminar will focus on literary, historical, and political aspects of Rio de Janeiro, focusing on the changes the city is undergoing in preparation for its heightened presence on the world stage. From the vibrant highlights of music and dance to the gritty reality of life in the favelas, the course offers an immersion into the social, cultural, and racial dynamics of Brazil condensed in Rio de Janeiro’s history.

What makes Rio attractive? What are its contradictions between city and slums? How are Brazil’s processes of democratization together with its growing economy being experienced in one of the most visible and important city in a global scale like Rio de Janeiro? How is the pacification of the favelas negotiated in cultural and political terms with the city’s inhabitants?

The coursework of this in-country seminar includes class discussions, invited speakers from local universities, site visits, and meetings with civil society groups. All of these coordinated activities will help to understand Rio’s development, its culture, its origins and its rise, from within.


This seminar will be based in Rio de Janeiro. The students will have the opportunity to see, learn and experience the city of Rio de Janeiro in depth.


Living and Traveling Conditions
Students will stay at a local hostel or equivalent in shared rooms in Rio de Janeiro. Internet in student accommodation may be slow and unreliable. Classes will be held both at the IBEU (Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos) Ipanema Branch and outdoors. Students should expect to spend about 20-30 minutes commuting time each way to classes both by foot and public transportation. Transportation will be arranged for all seminar site visits, not within the reasonable walking distance. The seminar will include various visits to favelas, which are usually located on steep hills with narrow streets. Visiting them requires the ability to walk a few hours, including steep steps and uneven ground. Also please be aware that while we will be visiting favelas that have been “pacified” (occupied by the police), this is no Disneyland! Students must be attentive and conscious of their surroundings, and be aware that we are visiting some of the most urban parts of the city. Dietary selections may be limited so students with severe restrictions should carefully evaluate their ability to participate comfortably.


Beatriz Magaloni  ( is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Poverty and Governance Program at the Center for Democracy, Rule of Law and Development. Her main areas of research include comparative politics, development, and the politics of authoritarian regimes. She is working on various projects on political clientelism and the politics of poverty reduction; local governance, civic engagement, and public good provision; rule of law; protest and authoritarian breakdown; and crime and drug-related violence. She is currently conducting field research in Southern Mexico to investigate the role of local traditional governance practices on local public good provision in indigenous communities. Her book, Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico (Cambridge University Press) won the Leon Epstein Award in 2007 for the best book published in the previous two years in the area of political parties and organizations and the best book award given by the Comparative Democratization section of the American Political Science Association. She won the American Political Science Association's Gabriel Almond Award for the Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics in 1998. Dr. Magaloni graduated with a M.A. and Ph.D in Political Science from Duke University in 1997. She also has a law degree from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).


Enrollment Capacity
15 undergraduate students.


Prerequisites and Expectations
Students are strongly encouraged to have some Spanish or Portuguese language background for this seminar, as that will enhance the overall experience. A required and suggested reading list will be distributed to admitted students at the Winter quarter orientation. All students are strongly encouraged to watch the films Tropa da elite (The Elite Squad) and Cidade de deus (City of God) in advance of the seminar. There will be two mandatory orientation sessions for the participating students, one during Winter quarter and one during Spring quarter.


Grading Basis
Satisfactory/No Credit.


Passport and Visa
Students are solely responsible for obtaining their passport and visa. Every BOSP participant MUST have a signed passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the scheduled RETURN date from the overseas program. Students who do not have a valid passport must apply for a new or renewed passport immediately. For information on obtaining or renewing a U.S. passport see To expedite your passport processing, click on the following link and go to the appropriate tab:
For visa information for this specific seminar, please click on the link below and go to the appropriate tab:


Health and Safety
Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, and psychological conditions vary by culture and under the laws of the host countries. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program and should consult with their physicians.

Students must be aware that certain immunizations are required to protect their health in Brazil. Students must review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for complete information on health conditions and vaccinations in Brazil at Students must also consult the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic ( Students are expected to make an appointment with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic as soon as they are accepted to the program at (650) 498-2336 ext. 1 to discuss any health concerns, pre-departure immunizations and any personal prescriptions before going abroad.

Rio de Janeiro continues to experience a high incidence of crime. Tourists are particularly vulnerable to street thefts and robberies in areas adjacent to major tourist attractions and on the main beaches in the city. Violence and crime are most likely to occur in establishments and neighborhoods near favelas without a visible police presence, although criminal activity could occur anywhere. Students are advised to pay close attention to surroundings and the behavior of those nearby.


Students must review the U.S. State Department’s consular information website for complete information on safety and security in Brazil at


While overseas, students are advised to be alert to their surroundings, and be particularly aware of any health and safety advisories for the areas in which they will be visiting. As with any foreign travel, emphasis will be placed on staying away from questionable situations, avoiding injury, and preventing infectious disease. Students will be expected to travel in groups, avoid travel at night, and stay with the group unless prior approval is obtained. If you are uncomfortable traveling under such conditions, you should not apply to this seminar. Additional issues of personal health and safety and precautions will be discussed in detail during the mandatory pre-seminar preparation and upon arriving in country.