Brazil Initiation Scholarship

2020 BIS Winners

Isabel Laterzo is a PhD student in Political Science at the UNC-Chapel Hill. With the support provided by the BIS, Laterzo will conduct preliminary research for her dissertation on police-community relations and citizen-government interaction on security issues in Latin America. Her research involves a trip to Brazil to connect with Brazilian academics doing work on the topic of her dissertation at Unicamp and UnB. The BIS will also be combined with a FLAS/CLS for Brazilian Portuguese, which will allow her to extend her research trip in Brazil.

Valeria Meiller is a PhD student in Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. With the support provided by the BIS, Meiller will conduct research on the work of Brazilian writer Ana Paula Maia. Her research focuses on how Maia’s literary representations of cattle at the slaughterhouse, and animal death at large, enter a dialogue with the reality of the brazilean cattle industry in Mato Grosso do Sul. Her research involves a trip to Rio de Janeiro to gather critical studies on the works of Paula Maia and try to interview the author, as well as a trip Mato Grosso do Sul to observe the functioning of the cattle industry in the region.

Lucy Andrea Quezada Yáñez is a Phd student in Art History at the University of Texas-Austin. With the support provided by the BIS, Yáñez will conduct preliminary research for her dissertation on a comparative study of the construction of an official discourse about the visual arts in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile during the military dictatorships of the 1960s-80s. Her research involves a trip to Rio de Janeiro to conduct research at Funarte and at Biblioteca e Arquivo Histórico do Museu Nacional de Belas Artes; and in São Paulo the Arquivo Historico Wanda Svevo of the Bienal de São Paulo, the libraries of the Universidade de São Paulo, the Arquivo do Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Biblioteca Walter Wey e Centro de Documentação e Memória).

Jesse Rothbard is Ph.D. student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Northwestern University. With the support provided by the BIS, Rothbard will conduct preliminary research for his dissertation on how portrayals of queerness in Brazilian detective fiction have transformed over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. He plans to examine detective stories, graphic novels, films, as well as police reports, mugshot photography, and audio testimonies to analyze the perceptions of the LGBTQ community. His research involves a trip to São Paulo to conduct investigation at the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade and to Salvador-Bahia to conduct research at the Grupo Gay da Bahia archives, in addition to interviewing LGBTQ intellectuals, such as Luiz Mott and João Silvério.

Brazil Initiation Scholarship Committee:

Vivaldo Santos (chair)

Patricia Pinho

James N Green



The Brazil Initiation Scholarship (BIS) is a key component of BRASA’s agenda to expand Brazilian Studies in the United States. BRASA invites applications from graduate and undergraduate students for a one-time $1,500 travel scholarship to do exploratory research or language study in Brazil. This scholarship targets aspiring Brazilianists with relatively little or no experience in Brazil. It seeks to contribute to the student’s initial trip (for a period from six weeks to three months), to heighten the student’s interest in Brazil, and deepen his/her commitment to Brazilian studies in the United States. Students are encouraged to combine this scholarship with other grants or awards.

Application Information

Eligibility: Proposals for the BIS will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

Highest priority will be given to applicants who are outstanding college seniors, recent college graduates applying to graduate programs in Brazilian studies or in Latin American studies with the intent of focusing on Brazil, or new graduate students already focusing on Brazil.

Students from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are eligible. In exceptional cases, applications from the natural sciences will be given consideration (for example, someone in environmental sciences who is writing a dissertation on the Amazon or pollution in São Paulo and who plans to continue research on Brazil).

Preference will be given to those applicants who have little or no in-country experience in Brazil. A student requesting funding to undertake an exploratory research trip should present evidence at the time of the application that he/she has achieved at least an intermediate level of competence in the Portuguese language sufficient to carry out the proposed research. Successful applicants may combine BIS with other grants, scholarships, or awards, as long as he/she specifies clearly how the funds are going to be spent (for example, the BRASA scholarship might be used to cover travel costs, while a grant from another source could be used for living expenses, etc.). Applicants are required to be BRASA members at the time of submission.

Application Process: A complete application (partial applications will not be considered) will include the following documents: (NOTE THAT ALL OF THE DOCUMENTS EXCEPT FOR THE TRANSCRIPTS AND LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION MUST BE SUBMITTED AS ONE PDF OR WORD DOCUMENT).

  1. The application cover page (download form)
  2. A two-page prospectus (double spaced, 12-point font)
  3. A two-page résumé or CV;
  4. A budget specifying how the $1500 will be spent
  5. In the case of undergraduates or recent college graduates, a letter of intent to study Brazil in graduate school
  6. A two-page bibliography on the subject of study, and evidence that the applicant has achieved at least an intermediate level of competence in Portuguese (competence can be demonstrated by a transcript or a letter from a university instructor of Portuguese)
  7. Membership at time of submission
  8. Two letters of recommendation from professors
  9. Copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts

The letters of recommendation and transcripts may be mailed directly to BRASA at the address below or sent via email. Applications without membership will not be considered. All other materials should be submitted together either as PDF or Word files in a single email to In the subject line write “BIS 2019 Submission + your name” and nothing else. (e.g. BIS 2019 Submission Smith, Mary).

Evaluation Criteria and Selection Process: In order to be considered for the scholarship, the two-page prospectus should:

  • Clearly and coherently outline the project’s engagement with Brazil
  • Demonstrate as precisely as possible the feasibility of the proposed exploratory research project and how it will contribute to the student’s academic development
  • Briefly discuss the role the work undertaken in Brazil will play in shaping the applicant’s future course of academic study (for instance, it could be the seed project for a larger grant application, provide the basis of a paper prepared for presentation at a BRASA conference, or serve as the foundation for future research on Brazil)

Report: Upon completion of the research experience in Brazil, recipients are required to file a two-page, double-spaced report with the BRASA Executive Director summarizing their activities and identifying relevant academic outcomes. In addition, a statement accounting for the expenditure of funds must be sent to the BRASA Executive Director. Following completion of studies in Brazil, BRASA strongly encourages recipients to participate in a subsequent BRASA Conference in order to report on their activities.

Deadline for application: February 1, 2020

Awards will be announced by February 28, 2020. To submit a proposal and for all other correspondence regarding this award, contact:

Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Brown University
111 Thayer Street, Box 1970

Providence, RI 02912-1970


2019 BIS Winners

Angela Epifano is a PhD student in Art History at the University of Chicago. With the support provided by the BIS, Epifano will conduct preliminary research tied to her dissertation on material culture as a form of political and social resistance in West Africa and the African Diaspora. Her research will involve fieldwork in Bahia, where she will visit the Arquivo Histórico Municipal de Salvador (AHMS) and the Arquivo Público do Estado da Bahia (APEB).

Ned Littlefield is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With the support provided by the BIS, Littlefield will conduct preliminary research tied to his dissertation on the relationship between the militarization of crime policy and civilian control over the armed forces. His research will involve a fieldtrip to Brazil to conduct interviews with military and civilian officials, visits to archives of the Armed Forces, Legislature, and Defense, and Public Security organizations in Brasília, São Carlos and Rio de Janeiro.

Jordan Rogers is a PhD student in Literary, Cultural, and Linguistic Studies at the University of Miami. With the support provided by the BIS, Rogers will conduct preliminary research tied to his dissertation centered on whether or not black gay men performed transnational solidarity in music, literature and film. His research will involve fieldwork in São Paulo and Salvador to conduct archival research, interview LGBTQ artists, activists, journalists and NGOs.

Brazil Initiation Scholarship Committee:

Vivaldo Santos, Chair

Tianna Paschel

James N Green


2018 BIS Winners

Mehrnush Golriz is a recent graduate in Hispanic Studies and Geography from Dartmouth College. With the support provided by the BIS, Golriz will conduct preliminary research tied to her application to the PhD program in Geography at the same university. Her investigation will center on Bolivian migrant workers in the city of São Paulo in order to understand how gender relations are impacted by the move to new living and working realities.

Samuel Johnson is a PhD student in Literary, Cultural, and Linguistic Studies at the University of Miami. With the support provided by the BIS, Johnson will conduct preliminary research for a dissertation centered on decolonial critiques and eco-criticism in contemporary literature, film, and music by indigenous peoples. This research will involve attending the Seminário de Literatura Indígena hosted by the Instituto Uka, conducting interviews with indigenous authors and fellow attendees, and exploring the archives of the Museu do Índio.

Kathleen Ulrich is a PhD student in Anthropology at Rice University. With the support provided by BIS, she will analyze the onset of “sucrochemicials”—renewable replacements for petrochemicals made from sugarcane at the Universidade de Campinas in Sao Paulo state. She will study the development of new discourses among key social actors, including scientists, industry experts, and government officials in Brazil, and how these actors are bringing about the replacement of petrochemicals with renewable, sugarcane-based alternatives.

Yura Yokoyama is an undergraduate majoring in Anthropology at SUNY-New Paltz. With the support provided by the BIS, and as part of a broader project that also involves fieldwork in Recife, Yokoyama will conduct a month-long study of Japanese-Brazilians in the town of Ivoti (Rio Grande do Sul) in order to understand the effects of Brazil’s current political and economic crisis on ethnic subjectivity among ordinary citizens and recognized leaders from this community.

Thank you to the 2018 Brazil Initiation Scholarship Committee, led by Elizabeth Kaknes, Sarah Townsend and Rafael Ioris.

2017 BIS Winners

Nohora Arrieta Fernandez, PhD Student in Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University.
Nohora Arrieta Fernandez will conduct research in Rio de Janeiro at João Cabral de Melo Neto’s personal archive to explore his poetry’s relationship to sugar production and modernity in Pernambuco.

Timothy Frye, PhD Student in Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at University of Minnesota
Timothy Frye will conduct research on mapping technologies, Amazonian literature and the politics of water in the Zona Franca area of Manaus in comparison to the canal texts in Panama and Nicaragua.

Gurdeep Kaur, Masters Student in Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Gurdeep Kaur will conduct research in Fortaleza, Ceara on the light rail transit project underway and its anticipated effects on the lives of low-income residents of Fortaleza.

Brazil Initiation Scholarship Committee:

Ana Lucia Araujo, Chair

Vivaldo Santos

Rubia Valente

2016 BIS Winners

Benjamin Bradlow, PhD Student in Sociology at Brown University.
Benjamin Bradlow will conduct research in Sao Paulo, Brazil interviewing activists, government and officials to compare spatial inequality in Brazil and South Africa.

Mira Kohl, PhD Student in Modern Latin American History at Tulane University
Mira Kohl will conduct research in Brazil utilizing archives to examine national anxieties over sovereignty and modernity during the development of Manaus.

Juan Suarez Ontaneda, PhD Student in Latin American Literatures and Cultures at University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.
Juan Suarez Ontaneda will conduct research in Rio de Janeiro relying on private archives to explore how theater has been used as a space to contest racial ideologies. He focuses on the work of Abdias do Nascimento.


Brazil Initiation Scholarship Committee:

Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, Chair

Steve Butterman

Matthew Taylor

Christopher Dunn