South America

Brazilian Conference of Bishops

The Brazilian Conference of Bishops (CNBB) was founded in 1952 by a group of bishops who were deeply critical of the economic and political status quo. This perspective grew out of the bishops’ backgrounds, many of whom were from poorer, rural states, but was also related to independent funding received from European Catholic organizations that allowed for autonomy from the state. The CNBB advanced the adoption of Paulo Freire’s model of “critical consciousness,”...

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Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian philosopher and educator, best known for his model of “critical consciousness,” a forerunner of critical pedagogy. Freire considered education a force for empowerment and liberation. As such, he argued a pedagogical approach should be developed with rather than for the students, especially those who come from oppressed, marginalized populations. Freire’s model, developed to empower the oppressed, encouraged students to critique the educational situation as well as the subject, highlighted the connections between individual problems...

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The Catholic Church in Brazil

The Catholic Church is deeply enmeshed in Brazil’s culture, beliefs, and institutions. The Church arrived with the Portuguese conquest in the sixteenth century and has since been the dominant religion. From 1500 to 1889, Catholicism was the official state religion. Even after disestablishment and the efforts at secularization that began under the First Republic (1889-1930), the Catholic Church retained its...

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The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade began in the late 15th century in Nigeria. By 1471, Portuguese navigators hoping to tap the fabled Saharan gold trade had reconnoitered the West African coast as far as the Niger Delta, and traded European commodities for local crafts as well as slaves, the latter which turned out to be highly lucrative. In the early stages, Europeans captured Nigerians in raids on coastal communities, but as the demand grew they relied on slaves to be supplied by local rulers, traders, and the military aristocracy, providing these agents with rum, guns, horses,...

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