Fulbright scholarship to study at UFPE, Recife, Brazil

View from the top of the hill in old Olinda
View from the top of the hill in Olinda, a World Heritage Site just to the north of Recife, Brazil.

Earlier this year the Council for International Exchange of Scholars awarded me a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in Recife, Brazil from August to December of this year. I have to admit that I thought my application was a bit of a long shot, having heard how competitive the program is, but certainly feel quite honored, if a bit humbled, considering many of the other people who have received this award.

I want to thank the Graduate Program in Urban Development (MDU) at UFPE and my colleagues there for supporting my application. I also want to thank my home institution–Roger Williams University–and my colleagues from the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation in supporting my research.

My research will explore ways in which sociocultural and experiential meanings can be dynamically assessed to inform the conservation of historic urban landscapes with the goal of developing a pragmatic tool for historic environment practitioners. Sounds like quite a mouthful, no? At a minimum, what I’m proposing will be a lot of work, but it will be made easier by the abundant support that I have from MDU/UFPE and my family in this endeavor, for which I am grateful. Overall, this research fits into my goal to impact the practice of those who work to preserve/conserve the historic environment, such as historic preservation planners, preservation architects, architectural conservators, and cultural resource management professionals.

This will not be the first time that I’ve been to Brazil, but it will certainly be the longest stay. (I was in Recife for about a week in 2007 and again in 2011.) Recife is a large city of three million people with a rich heritage that extends to its culture and built environment. It is a fascinating mix of Portuguese, African, Indigenous, and Dutch influence with unique characteristics that differentiate the region from Brazil’s more well-known cities far to the south, such as Rio de Janeiro. The area around Recife was originally settled by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, had a brief Dutch occupation in the 17th century, and then reverted to Portuguese rule before independence in the 19th century. Having already been there before, it should make the transition to a new area and culture much easier. Although my particular Fulbright award did not require Portuguese fluency, I hope to have a basic proficiency by the time I arrive. (It helps that I know Spanish, but trust me, there are lots of differences, especially in pronunciation. Brazilian Portuguese is also quite a bit difference in some ways from the language spoken in Portugal.)

I hope to use this blog as a way to share my experiences in Brazil, my research, and other items relevant to my work in Recife. You probably won’t see much on this blog until I arrive in Recife in early August, however.

Until then, até logo!

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