In 1990 I did an immersion program in Pernambuco, Brazil. I spent weeks in Recife and the colonial city of Olinda, where I saw baroque churches, staggering poverty and urban life. I also heard the rich folklore and oral traditions that survived in the region regarding everything from nineteenth century bandits to messianic leaders. And of course I learned about the droughts, which have engulfed the region time after time. Lately there has been a great deal of attention given to the drought in the American West, and in particular California. But there is also a drought in Brazil that is so bad that dams cannot be relied upon to supply power. The Global Post has had a great series of reports on the disaster, which includes text, video and a photo essay. And if you want to have a deeper understanding of events there, read Nicholas Gabriel Arons’ Waiting for Rain: The Politics and Poetry of Drought in Northeast Brazil. Or if you want to dive into literature to understand the region’s past, read Jorge Amado’s Violent Land. You can also see more posts about Brazil at this blog here. Or you can find my own book on Brazil here.
Shawn Smallman, Portland State University