Hip Hop Pedagogies: Education for Citizenship in Brazil and the United States (2023-2024)

Background

Since the early 2000s, the community organization Instituto Enraizados (Institute of the Rooted) has promoted racial, social and political awareness through hip hop, dance, and visual and media arts on the urban periphery of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Located in the city of Nova Iguaçu in the Baixada Fluminense, Enraizados hosts regular slam poetry events, a reading library, media production facilities and a college preparatory exam course. It is a beacon of hope, awareness and empowerment to the youth of the Baixada.

The Baixada Fluminense, or Rio Lowlands, is home to four million residents, two thirds of whom are African-descended and poor or working class. The region has a high concentration of young people who face not only poverty but racism, classism and stigmatization. 

Enraizados was founded by Dudu de Morro Agudo (i.e., Dudu from the Morro Agudo neighborhood), a multifaceted Black Brazilian rapper. His trajectory in hip hop goes back to the 1990s when the musical genre first emerged in Brazil as an expression of class and racial identity and a protest against the stigmatization of marginal and peripheral populations. 

Over a quarter century, Dudu has transitioned between cultural production and grassroots activism. His work in public schools and in outreach within and beyond his community, specifically his artistic performances and participatory “RapLab” events, have been marked by the development of ground-breaking pedagogical approaches focused on inspiring young people and encouraging them to rethink their roles and become actors in, not simply reactors to, a world that often appears stacked against them. 

Project Description

This project brings together scholars, artists and students from Duke, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the Federal Rural University in Rio de Janeiro to investigate a community-based pedagogical practice that reaches Black and poor youth in urban Brazil by building a democratic culture of rights and citizenship in a profoundly authoritarian, racist and classist society. Combining reading, field work and practice, the team will investigate and inventory the educational techniques developed by Instituto Enraizados to encourage defense of rights and active citizenship. This work builds on a long-standing collaboration, including a prior Bass Connections project on higher education expansion in the Baixada Fluminense. 

First, team members will explore and the intellectual, political and cultural origins of Enraizado’s organizing practice. Next, they will examine the life circumstances of youth in the Baixada Fluminense, including those youth who attend the local federal university, during field research in August 2023. Team members will closely observe the deployment of the RapLab method by documenting the organization’s poetry slams, informal and organized social events, college preparatory classes and online discussions. 

Upon their return, team members will experiment with applying the RapLab method in classroom and community settings in Durham. Ultimately, the team expects to create intellectually compelling products — academic and nonacademic — to bring what they have learned about Afro-Brazilian history to wider United States and Brazilian audiences. 

Anticipated Outputs

Facilitator guide and video lessons in English and Portuguese for RapLab methodology; documentation of application of RapLab methodology in university and community settings; website with text and audiovisual components; publication on origins and impacts of Enraizado’s organizing practice and exercise of citizenship in elections; workshop to share findings

Student Opportunities

Ideally, the team will include a balance of undergraduate and graduate students from both Duke and NCCU. The strongest applicants will have interest and experience in the interpretive social sciences, education, public policy, social justice, audio and visual arts and hip hop. While language skills in Portuguese are desirable, the team is open to students who do not yet speak Portuguese but would like to learn. This unique cross-institutional collaboration will allow team members to work with students and youth from Duke, NCCU, the Enraizados program and the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro.

Through this project, students will gain experience conducting field research in Brazil, conducting qualitative and quantitative analyses, implementing an innovative educational methodology in Durham, working collaboratively on a diverse team, using Portuguese language skills, contributing to a website and documentary film, and helping to craft a community-based participatory research project from study design through publication of blog posts and academic articles. 

Students with an interest in producing audiovisual materials will have the opportunity to film/record and edit pieces for the website, and team members will write public-facing texts for audiences in the U.S. and Brazil. In addition to these experiences, graduate and professional students will be able to lead subsections of the project and mentor undergraduate students, as well as developing their own research agendas that align with the overarching project aims.

All team members will be expected to attend preparatory meetings prior to traveling to Nova Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for three weeks of field research in August.

Lucas Lopes will serve as project manager.

See the related Data+ project for Summer 2023; there is a separate application process for students who are interested in this optional component.

Timing

Summer 2023 – Spring 2024

  • Summer 2023: Preparatory meetings and travel to Brazil in August to conduct field research with Instituto Enraizados (all team members); related Data+ project (separate application)
  • Fall 2023: Conduct literature review; conduct additional interviews over Zoom; implement Rap Lab methodology in Durham and develop teaching units on Afro-Brazilian history and culture
  • Spring 2024: Implement Rap Lab methodology in Durham; develop website; write academic article; organize culminating conference with Dudu de Morro Agudo 

Crediting

Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available

This Team in the News

Duke Students Visit Durham Middle School

Hip-Hop As Education and Inspiration in Brazil and the United States

Racional e Enraizado: Caminhos para a Libertação através do Hip Hop Brasileiro

Mitchell-Walthour Makes Her Mark as an Expert in Brazilian Racial Politics

See related Data+ summer project, Hip Hop Pedagogies & Education for Citizenship in Brazil & the US (2023), and earlier related team, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to Higher Education in Brazil (2018-2019).

 

Image: Travis Knoll, Dudu de Morro Agudo and Antonio Lacerda in Brazil, courtesy of Travis Knoll

Three men stand together in front of a wall with graffiti.

Team Leaders

  • Courtney Crumpler, Arts and Sciences–Romance Studies–Ph.D. Student
  • John French, Arts & Sciences-History
  • Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, North Carolina Central University

/graduate Team Members

  • Lucas Lopes, Romance Studies-AM, Romance Studies-PHD
  • Travis Williams, Divinity-MDV

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Yuri De Melo Costa, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Akshay Gokul
  • Rafael Perdigao De Moura

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Ellis Ackerman, Undergraduate Student, NCSU
  • Silvio Almeida, Luiz Gama Institute (São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Fatoumata Balde, Undergraduate Student, NC Central University
  • Alexandre Fortes, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Cedra Goodrum, Undergraduate Student, NC Central University
  • Travis Knoll, Wingate University
  • Álvaro Nascimento, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Luciana Pereira da Silva Lopes, Visiting Scholar
  • Stephanie Reist, Stanford University
  • Dudu de Morro Agudo, Enraizados Institute

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