University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > The decolonization of images in contemporary Brazilian picturebooks

The decolonization of images in contemporary Brazilian picturebooks

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As a young nation, nearly as old as printed books, Brazil has not so strict traditions and offers a fertile ground for experimentation and mixture, which is said to be a distinctive feature of Brazilian culture. Progressively building its own cultural identity away from predominantly Eurocentric models, the fusion of local and global elements in a very particular way can be well observed in the evolution of visual discourses in picturebooks – rather than postmodern, these books could be regarded as postcolonial texts.

When receiving the Hans Christian Andersen award in 2014, Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello declared: “We’ve overcome Eurocentrism”, speaking on behalf of Brazilian artists. Mello’s victory is a result not only of his own indisputable talent, but also of a wider social interest in broadening the horizons of picturebooks. In what context was it possible for him to explore and expand these books’ codes, being at the same time local and global? By examining Mello’s picturebooks and contextualising them in the Brazilian scenery, we’ll be stressing the conditions that were influential in the process of developing an autonomous cultural identity in illustration, both in terms of style and theme.

Claudia Mendes is a graphic designer, MPhil in Visual Arts from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and currently a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge, as part of her PhD research on Brazilian contemporary picturebooks. Former fellow at International Youth Library, where she was co-curator of an exhibition about Roger Mello’s works in 2011. She contributes regularly to periodicals in the field of children’s literature, being her most recent articles published in White Ravens (2013) about Brazilian contemporary and historical production, and in a special issue of Bookbird (2014) dedicated to Roger Mello.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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