TAMPA, Fla. (March 1, 2016) – A new general agreement between USF
World and the Instituto Cultural Steve Biko formalizes a relationship that
began through the scholarship of Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman (Sociology and Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean) over the past seven years. This pact
is the first step in developing more sustained collaborations between USF and the
Institute, and it grows out of Hordge-Freeman’s concerns about destabilizing the
boundaries that separate researchers from local and global communities.
“Research, the kind that I’m doing, cannot be just about
extracting material and information from global communities. With this grant,
my goal has been to figure out how can I help support initiatives of the people
and groups who have facilitated my research. Ultimately, research
collaborations should be mutually supportive and not one-sided,” she said.
In support of reinforcing “a new model of responsibly engaging in mutually
beneficial relationships, that involves collaborating and sharing knowledge,”
Hordge-Freeman requested special permission to use a recent USF Faculty Travel
and Mobility Grant to bring some of her Fulbright collaborators from Brazil to USF’s campus.
“Jucy Silva, the executive director of the
Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, and Dr.
Ivonildes da Silva Fonseca, a professor at the State University of
Paraíba are black Brazilian
women working to eradicate sexism and racism in Brazil,” she said. “I’m excited
about this because their organizations, Biko and Bamidelê are doing the type of
anti-racist community engaged work and activism that more closely aligns with
visit to the United States by the two women and Brazil Cultural Director Javier Escudero, Ph.D. covered a few bases. In addition to Silva signing the
general agreement with USF World, the three participated in a week of events in
which they served as guest speakers in four classes, participated in a panel on
scholar-activism, attended USF INTO courses and met with interested departments
including Sociology, Africana Studies and the Institute for the Study of Latin
America and the Caribbean (ISLAC).
of their trip were a luncheon hosted by former USF President Betty Castor who serves
as chair of the Fulbright Scholarship Board and a tour of historically Black
neighborhoods in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Black Lives Matter in
the U.S. and Brazil
“Community research must be bi-directional. And it’s important to
help my fellow scholars and collaborators in Brazil accomplish their organizational
goals alongside my research goals. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find ways to make
these connections with significant support at USF coming from Dr. Bernd Reiter
(associate professor I Government & International Affairs), Dr. Roger Brindley
(USF World) and the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. Dr.
Reiter, with collaboration of the ISLAC Afro Descendant Working Group, is spearheading the development of the Franz Fanon Afro Descendant Training Institute for black community leaders in the
Americas. The Instituto Cultural Steve Biko is now an active member in this
two-way street has provided insights.
“What’s fascinating is how much commonality there is between the
racial issues impacting Black communities in the U.S. and Brazil,”
Hordge-Freeman observed. “The best example of this is the way that the Black
Lives Matter Movement – Vidas Negras Importam – in Portuguese, has been used to
expose police brutality in Brazil.
She said Brazilians have complained bitterly about police
brutality but the U.S. Black Lives Matter Movement galvanized an expansion of
the movement in Brazil where young men are shot by police in far greater
“Even though far more Africans were enslaved and transported to
South America than to North America, people have only recently – at least over
the past couple of decades – begun to discuss racism more openly, organize
around the genocide of Black youth and critique the lack of opportunity for
Black Brazilians. A recent campaign, ‘não me vejo, não compro’ – ‘I don’t see
myself, I won’t buy’ – illustrates how Black Brazilians are leveraging their
economic power in their struggles for representation and equality,” she said.
“That’s the power of global transnational dialogues. In Brazil,
the movement has expanded far beyond police brutality in order to address other
issues that disproportionately impact Black women and families. The U.S. could
greatly benefit from an intersectional approach that considers both race and
For her part, Hordge-Freeman has learned a lot about Brazil by
spending time there.
“Brazil has the largest African population outside of Africa and
as much as Brazil historically has been celebrated for being a ‘racial
paradise,’ blackness continues to be stigmatized, rejected and undervalued in
many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.”
The research itself is rewarding, but as Hordge-Freemans states, “So
often, scholarly works aren’t available in the language of the people being
researched. If I’m serious about having an impact, the work needs to be
accessible to Brazilians,” she said.
And that’s exactly what she’s doing with her latest book, one of
the USF Tampa bookstore’s best sellers, “The
Color of Love: Racial Features, Stigma, and Socialization in Black Brazilian
The book is under contract for translation into Portuguese. In addition,
Hordge-Freeman believes that academics have to push for their work to be
available to mainstream, non-academic audiences, as well. This was the impetus
for her TEDxUSF talk (see above) on her new book.
Race Matters in Research
The sociologist is addressing “the ways Black
folk from Brazil and the U.S. experience racism as they are conducting
research” in a new book she co-edited with Gladys Mitchell-Walthour from
the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, “Race
and the Politics of Knowledge Production: Diaspora and BlackTransnational
Scholarship in the United States and Brazil.”
surprising as it may seem, the race of the researcher and the race of our
research participants make a difference. One can’t assume that being Black or
being an “insider” advantages us in our research involving Black communities,”
she said. “The great sociologist (W.E.B.) DuBois wrote about how the
‘double-consciousness’ of Black Americans could provide them with a standpoint
to better understand race in the U.S., but our book explores the extent to
which this is true for black transnational researchers.”
Hordge-Freeman is excited about the work she’s doing.
“Social movements, including race-based movements, that advocate for
equal treatment are gaining momentum throughout the world. This is an important
historical moment,” she said.
attention to this historical moment has earned Hordge-Freeman impressive
is being presented with the USF Outstanding Faculty Award this month along with
a group of her peers. “This recognition illustrates how USF supports my
community-engaged global research and rewards the work of Fulbright grantees,”
honor comes on the heels of her being the recipient of Florida Campus Compact’s
inaugural Engaged Scholarship Faculty Special Award for Global Engagement, being recognized
with USF's Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and she is the inaugural
recipient of the USF Outstanding Community-Engaged
as a junior faculty member have been recognized at the national level as well
(Finalist, Lynton Award for the Scholarship of
Engagement for Early Career Faculty), state level (McKnight Junior Faculty
Development Fellowship recipient), and local level (USF system-wide
Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Junior Faculty Research Award recipient).
Hordge-Freeman is heading to
Brazil to begin her Fulbright project on modern slavery later this month. She
said, “The support for my research has been overwhelming, and the types of
social and political changes that have occurred in Brazil as well as the
feedback from my global partners let me know I’m headed in the right direction.”