Here’s my diary of my trip to Brazil to speak at a conference on geography, gender and sexualities.
Brasilia via Lisbon
Brasilia is the capital of Brazil, but like Milton Keynes it is a city that was built in the 1960’s after it was designated as the capital. The fastest growing city label is easily seen by the immense bumper-to-bumper traffic from the airport and the fast growing suburb of Aguas Claras. Buildings are going up everywhere. Apartment living is the norm, and the apartments all having swimming pools and children’s toys. There is little public space, except a park that is accessible by foot from some parts of the district. This is car culture and most of the buildings have large carparks and promises of car parking spaces are used to sell new apartments.
Family life and the rhythms of everyday life are very different here, children stay up late and go to bars and restaurants (some of which have specific children’s areas) with their parents – no babysitters here! School is only in the afternoon – or sometimes in the morning.
There are elections whilst we are here. People vote electronically, by fingerprint and using a series of numbers. There are a number of rules about public advertising of candidates, like they have to clear away all campaign posters by 10 o’clock at night to avoid litter. No campaigning is allowed on the day so outside voting stations the floor is covered in flyers left their the night before – showing the ingenuity and persistence and importance of advertising. The election result is inconclusive as the president needs at least 50% of the vote, two candidates are left (including the controversial outgoing president Dilma) and further elections will take place later in the month to decide the winner.