Making Culture, Moving Margins: State-Society Interactions within Brazilian Cultural Policy


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


This project examines the role of cultural policy in fostering emergent forms of state-society engagement in Brazil. Based on interviews and participant-observation in three Brazilian states, it explores how tensions between societal cultural practices and state bureaucratic procedures within the Brazilian Pontos de Cultura program, a policy to recognize and fund cultural initiatives of excluded populations, compel ongoing interactions between marginalized artists and state agents. While encounters with bureaucracy might be expected to exacerbate the alienation of subaltern groups, here marginalized individuals’ status as valued culture makers contributes to collaborations across the state-society divide that lead to learning and accommodations on both sides. Linking changes in abstract systems of meaning about who belongs in the polity to changes in technical details of state administration, the research shows both as necessary to construct a state capable of reaching and responding to the whole of its citizenry.