Brazilian Afro-Indigenous Writer Verenilde Pereira Visits Princeton Seminar on Insurgent Writings in Brazil

Nov. 30, 2023

On November 20, 2023, the trailblazing Brazilian Afro-Indigenous writer Verenilde Pereira visited the Brazil LAB-sponsored graduate seminar Insurgent Writings in Brazil, taught by Princeton Visiting Professor Luís Augusto Fischer and PIIRS/HMEI Postdoctoral Fellow Rodrigo Simon de Moraes.

Joining via Zoom, Pereira provided students with a profound and unique window into her journey as a writer, journalist, and activist. Participants engaged in a thought-provoking conversation about Pereira’s highly anticipated novel, Um Rio Sem Fim (A River With No End), forthcoming with Alfaguara/Companhia das Letras. Subsequently, Pereira delved into its formulations within the realm of scholarly discourse, weaving intricate connections between a life of encounters and the nuanced fabric of artistic expressions. Pereira also illuminated the profound significance of insurgent voices within the intricate landscape of the contemporary artistic sphere. Following the presentation, an engaging Q&A session ensued, where students enthusiastically interacted with Pereira's insights.

Born in Manaus, the capital city of Amazonas state –– the daughter of a Black mother and a father from the Sateré Mawé Indigenous people –– Verenilde Pereira graduated in journalism from the Federal University of Amazonas. She initiated her journalistic career at Porantim, the first Brazilian publication exclusively dedicated to Indigenous news. In 1989, her rigorous investigations into powerful mining companies causing environmental damage in the rainforest led to her unjust imprisonment. Facing threats due to her diligent investigative work, Pereira was forced to flee the Amazon region and established herself in Brasília.

Originally written as part of her master’s thesis, Pereira’s novel Um Rio Sem Fim remained almost unknown for twenty-four years until Simon de Moraes highlighted her literary talent and luminous oeuvre in an article published in Folha de S. Paulo, a major Brazilian newspaper, in May 2022.

The seminar Insurgent Writings in Brazil, offered by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, draws from critical theory to explore how past and present-day Brazilian predicaments shape cultural landscapes, with a focus on diverse peripheral artistic perspectives. Challenging the idea of a single Brazilian history and identity and breaking open what literature is and does, students are engaging with the works of a new generation of Black, Indigenous, and women writers, who are recasting our sense of the colonial/anti-colonial, systemic racism, orality and storytelling, power, and insurgency.