I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, a thriving metropolis of social and cultural creativity permeated by hills, forests and the ocean. Rio is a place I regularly return to and draw inspiration from. Since my teens, I have also lived for most of my life in the UK where I studied Fine Art, International Development, and Social Anthropology. Over the last ten years I have been working in a number of universities in the UK primarily in the field of social anthropology. Through this time I also been involved in filmmaking and participative research projects with young photographers, researchers and activists from Rio, with First Nations’ artists and educators from Canada, and with curators and museum workers from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.
In earlier work, I engaged with young people, marginalization and social movements in Rio de Janeiro, focusing especially on the identities and life-histories of those growing up in urban poverty and how they develop creative approaches to engage with these conditions for both themselves and their communities. Working in Brazil has also led me to explore a more public, engaged and collaborative approach to social enquiry which I have been applying throughout my teaching and research work.
Working in a range of academic institutions has given me a sense of how much more the university could be, of how it could engage with students more holistically and nurture not only their capacity for critical reflection and understanding but also their transformative and creative involvement in the world. For me learning/teaching are ways of knowing more about ourselves, each other and the world we live but they are also transformative practices that encourage more caring ways of being and relating. This aspiration, for discovering ways of learning that can be transformative and cultivate a deeper creative engagement with the world, with community, with the land and its many inhabitants, is what prompted me to embark on this journey. At the same time, the seriousness of the environmental, social and economic problems we are encountering has led us to question how much our educational institutions are addressing these challenges or whether they may in fact be complicit in the state the world is in. As we are discovering from the places we are visiting, learning can also be an immersive activity that involves and nurtures the whole person, the community and relationship to place, rather than only about acquiring specialised skills in a particular discipline or for a job market. This broader vision of learning is what I aspire to in my own learning and in that which I create with others.