Day three: Latin American Geography, Gender and Sexualities

This is my diary of a recent trip to Brazil to speak at a conference on geography, gender and sexualities.
IMG_9763 Porto Vehlo

Porto Velho

Porto Velho is a small town in the Northern region of Brasil. It borders the Amazon and is very clearly poorer than Brasilia. However, no matter where you go there are always traces of globalization, and in Porto Velho there is an air conditioned shopping centre. As many consumption geographers have discussed, this shopping centre is vey much globalized in the ambience it seeks, in the uniformity of the building, wide aisles, flagship shops at each end and smaller shops between. There is of course a McDonalds in the foodcourt! But look closer and the specificity of Brasil and Porto Velho is also there. None of the shops are recognizably global (except perhaps C&A). The shops instead and the food served are distinctly Brazilian. Acai is the fruit of the region (although found all over Brazil) and is served here.

Day two: Latin American Geography, Gender and Sexualities Seminar

Here’s my diary of my trip to Brazil to speak at a conference on geography, gender and sexualities.

Brasilia

A day trip out of Brasilia highlighted a very interesting phenomena – motels. These are rented by the hour, but unlike in the UK their use is considered normal for couples. The motels are explicit about their use, with one named ‘Horizontal’. Motels are used after a night out or for those in long term relationships, as well as activities that might be frowned upon. This different creation of normal sexual spaces is related to family living where people live in shared family homes with parents in their 20’s and 30’s, after they are married and so on. These motels then provide a space away from the watchful eyes, for both parents and children.

Day one: Latin American Geography, Gender and Sexualities Seminar

Here’s my diary of my trip to Brazil to speak at a conference on geography, gender and sexualities.

Brasilia via Lisbon

IMG_9952 BrasiliaBrasilia 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.

Under Siege

beetle_se_invasive_species_nov2014Our borders are under siege, not from immigrants of human origin, but by those that float on the wind, bury themselves in wood, infect our crops and damage the health of the environment. Invasive species, pests and diseases are what Andrew Gaunt of the government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) tackles on a daily basis in his role as Plant Health and Seeds Inspector. From Ash Dieback to Asian Hornets, Andrew delivered punchy stories from the frontline of protecting our borders in his fascinating presentation. Now it is our turn to become more aware of the threats posed by these alien invaders.
The event was hosted by the south east branch of The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) at the University of Brighton on 12 November.

The benefits of accreditation

ches_accredited_logoIn times of an all too competitive job market, students need every little bit of help they can get. So with the recent accreditation of the Environmental Sciences BSc(Hons)and Earth and Ocean Sciences BSc(Hons) courses by the Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES), it was welcoming to hear the IES CEO Adam Donnan give a talk on campus today as part of the careers fair. Students on these courses can now become members and receive benefits such as help with their CVs and networking opportunities once they graduate. With the right balance of personal motivation and professional advice there are careers to be had for all prospective environmental scientists.