Beside Bandung: Historicizing Brazil in the América do Sul-Países Árabes Summit

John T. Karam, Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University and the Winter 2015 LALS Distinguished Speaker, examines Brazil's relationship to Africa and the Middle East in a free, public lecture on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, at 5:00pm in the Charles E. Merrill Lounge.

December 17, 2014

By , Chair, Latin American & Latino Studies 

Summit of South America-Arab Countries, Brasilia, 2005

Why did Brazil host the inaugural 2005 summit of South America-Arab Countries (América do Sul-Países Árabes, ASPA), and a year later, retain its status as "observer," and not member, of the 14th summit of non-aligned countries?  This lecture historically juxtaposes, on the one hand, the Brazilian state’s rapprochement toward the Arab world that culminated in ASPA and, on the other, its measured distance from official membership in the Non-Aligned Movement.  Since the mid-twentieth century, Brazil strengthened economic and political exchanges with non-aligned states in the Arab world and, at the same time, it eschewed formal adherence to non-alignment.  During Jânio Quadros’s administration (1961), the military dictatorship (1964-1985), as well as Lula’s two terms (2003-2011), the Brazilian state concurrently cultivated ties toward Africa and the Middle East, as well as maintained the status of "observer" in non-aligned meetings.  In remaining beside – neither in nor against – Bandung and the many summits it inspired, Brazilian authorities learned the language of non-alignment that they employed for their own purposes with Arab countries.  The seemingly paradoxical roles of Brazil in ASPA and non-alignment reveal the overlapping, and competing, agendas in the Global South.

John Karam HeadshotJohn Tofik Karam’s ethnographic and archival research advances the transnational turn in area and ethnic studies by reframing South America and the Middle East through their mutually entangled imaginaries and histories.  His first book, Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil (Temple University Press, 2007), won awards from the Arab American National Museum and the Brazilian Studies Association, and it was translated by the Editora Martins Fontes into Portuguese (2009) and by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies into Arabic (2012).  With María del Mar Logroño Narbona and Paulo G. Pinto, Professor Karam is coediting Crescent over Another Horizon:  Islam in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino U.S.A., forthcoming from the University of Texas Press.  His current solo book project is tentatively titled "Surrogate Sovereigns:  Arabs at the Tri-Border and the Rise of Brazil."  With Akram Khater and Andrew Arsan, he coedits the peer-reviewed journal Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies.  Published in the journal’s inaugural issue in 2013, his "The Lebanese Diaspora at the Tri-Border and the Redrawing of South American Geopolitics, 1950–1992" was awarded the best article prize by the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association in 2014.  He has published in the Journal of Latin American Studies and International Journal of Middle East Studies.  Professor Karam also makes appearances in Brazilian media, including the Estado de S. Paulo and CBN, and Arab media, including Lebanon’s The Daily Star and Murr TV, as well as the United Arab Emirate’s Brownbook.


The Chicano Latino Research Center is honored to cosponsor this free, public lecture with the Latin American and Latino Studies Department.