Resources and Links

Culture and Reality

Traveling to Brazil can be a fascinating experience if we learn about the reality and the cultures we will encounter during the immersion experience.

Below you will find a list of suggested media (movies, documentaries, and books) to help you in the preparation for the trip.


  1. The Year My Parents Went on Vacation – The setting takes place during the military dictatorship in Brazil. The parents are kidnaped by the army and the little boy has to stay with his Jewish grandfather in São Paulo.
  2. Que Horas Ela Volta? –The Second Mother (English title): Set in São Paulo, this film follows the relationship between a live-in housekeeper and her estranged daughter. It brings up class and race barriers.
  3. Pixote – The movie concerns street children. It´s an older movie and the reality of the situation has changed since then, but it’s insightful for understanding why Brazil has chronic problems with violence.
  4. They Killed Sister Dorothy – It is a documentary about Sister Dorothy assassination in the Amazon. She has become an iconic figure – martyr even – for the agrarian rights movement of the poor in the Amazon basin. There are still publications (news and books) that still come out regarding Sister Dorothy.
  5. The Burning Season – chronicles Chico Mendes’ fight to protect the rainforest. Mendes was a rubber tapper, unionist and environmental activist who was murdered in 1988 by ranchers opposed to his activism. Mendes opposed their deforestation of the Amazon that would be used for ranch land. The film has many of the same themes as They Killed Sister Dorothy.
  6. Carandiru – It is based a true story about the killing of 111 prisoners in São Paulo. It´s still a very popular film, and still a very poignant memory for the agents of the Prison Pastoral in São Paulo.
  7. Central Station (or Central do Brasil) – It´s another popular (fictional) movie based in Brazil and illustrates the differences between the Northeast and the Southeast regions (and culture) in Brazil.
  8. Wasteland – Documentary that follows “pickers” in Rio’s largest landfill.
  9. Black in Latin America – PBS DocuSeries that follows what it is like to be black in differing countries in Latin America. The Brazil portion is helpful in explaining how Brazil perceives diversity in color and explains Afro-Brazilian religion. (Can be found in Maryknoll Sisters’ Library)


  1. Teresa Pires do Rio CaldeirasCity of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in SP. It is a nice book to know Sao Paulo. Highly Recommended.
  2. Larry Rother – He was the New York Times reporter in Brazil. His book on Brazil is called Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed.
  3. Roberto DaMata – He is a Brazilian anthropologist and professor in the U. S. Some of his books show his vision about the importance of Carnival and soccer for Brazilians.
  4. John BurdickLooking for God in Brazil. This is a nice book to get a little understanding about the complexity of religion in Brazil.
  5. Thomas SkidmoreBrazil: Five Centuries of Change. A secondary source on Brazilian history starting from the time of the Portuguese arrival in the late 15th century till 21st century.
  6. Tiffany JosephRace on the Move: A look at race relations in Brazil. Joseph interviewed residents of Governador Valadares, Brazil’s largest immigrant-sending city to the U.S., to ask how their immigrant experiences have transformed local racial understandings. Joseph identifies and examines a phenomenon—the transnational racial optic—through which migrants develop and ascribe social meaning to race in one country.
  7. Dave ZirinBrazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy


  1. New York Times Reporter Simon Romero was Bureau chief for many years in Rio and extensively covered Brazil. He relocated to the US-Mexican border in May of 2017 to cover immigration issues. To find articles on Brazil look in archives of his writings at the NY Times.
  2. Aljazerra has published helpful articles recently to get a glimpse of what life is like inside Brazilian prisons (both are opinion pieces , but with good statistical research). There is no justice for the poor in Brazil and The barbarism of Brazilian prisons.
  3. My Path, Pg 27 by Maryknoll Lay Missioner Claire Stewart, Brazil
  4. life in mission: Welcoming the Stranger, Pgs 6 – 10 by Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Brazil
  5. I Found Hope Behind Prison Walls, Pgs 6 – 11 by Sam Stanton
  6. Brazil: Update on the mining dam disaster
  7. Brazil: Worst environmental disaster in history
  8. Brazil: TIAA-CREF and Land Grabbing
  9. Brazil: Digging deeper into corruption scandals
  10. Brazil: Study released on 30 years of land conflicts
  11. Brazil: Torture report released


  1. 2013 Immersion Trip
  2. 2015 Immersion Trip


  1. Prisons Brazil 2016
  2. Refugees in Brazil
  3. Immersion in Brazil