Interview with Albino Rubim, from the Federal University of Bahia (Brazil)

“Conferences play a substantive role in the overcome of some unfair misunderstandings, as well as promoting influential cooperation”


PhD in Sociology by the University of São Paulo, in 1987, holding a Post-Doc in Cultural Policies by the University of Buenos Aires and University San Martin, in 2006, Albino Canelas Rubim is a Senior Lecturer of Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and researcher of Brazilian foundation CNPq. Former coordinator of CULT – the research centre of Multidisciplinary Studies in Culture – he was also the director of CULT book collection at UFBA. His research stands for the political cultures and their dissemination. Rubim is one of the invited Keynote Speakers of the III International Conference of Cultures: Lusophone Interfaces, to be held in the University of Minho, from 23 to 25th November 2017.


Following recently conferences in 2015 at the University of Beira Interior and the one in 2016 at the Federal University of Bahia, what kind of expectations do you have for this III International Conference on Cultures: Interfaces of Lusophonia?

I have a very positive evaluation of the academic, cultural and intellectual collaboration that began to be prepared in 2015 in that conference. That reminded me of Eduardo Lourenço, in his instigating texts, that there are still some cultural misunderstandings between Brazil and Portugal, despite our shared culture in historical terms. I think that these conferences play a substantive role in overcoming some of these misunderstandings, and in the promotion of influential cooperation. It will, of course, be quite significant for the studies on culture in Portugal and Brazil.

Your research focuses in the field of public policies of culture in Brazil. How do you evaluate the evolution of these policies in recent years? What do you think will be the future investment priorities in this field?

The field of cultural policies in Brazil and even internationally is dealing with advances and setbacks. I think that this is a result of practices, studies and cultural policies. As a matter of fact, we can understand cultural policies as practices from the mid-twentieth century. As field of study, maybe since the 70’s, 80’s. But in spite of this complicated combination of advances and setbacks – as has happened in Brazil since the media-legal-parliamentary coup, which overthrew the president-elect in 2016 and who has already had four ministers of culture over a year – I believe that the field of practices and studies of cultural policies has been developing both in international and national terms. The role played by Gilberto Gil in the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, during the Lula administration, was remarkable in terms of cultural policies in the country and even internationally. The growth of cultural policy studies has been visible since the beginning of the twenty-first century. In Brazil, training and research in cultural policies has been remarkable, even at times of reflux. The discussion and appreciation in the international scene of cultural diversity and themes such as cultural citizenship, cultural rights and citizen culture also points to the expansion and consolidation of cultural policies.

What kind of potential do you see in these scientific events?

The constitution of an effective and democratic Lusophone community, I guess. Not the one that has been sought in authoritarian moments of our histories. This implies the expansion of relations and exchanges between Brazilians, Portuguese and citizens of other CPLP countries. In this perspective, holding an international cultural conference in Portugal and Brazil can contribute to the development of this community. It will only be an effective and democratic community if it is built with the real participation of these countries population. Their communities and cultural institutions, such as universities, play a leading role in this process.

Who are the main actors in culture public policies nowadays?

For many years, the main actors of cultural policies were the national states. But since the 1970’s and 1980’s new actors have been incorporated. International bodies, like UNESCO, have played a role in the development of cultural policies. In addition, we can mention the OEI, SEGIB, CPLP, Mercosul Cultural, the European Union and several other multilateral institutions. Also, other state entities – such as municipalities, states and even regional consortia – started to participate in the field of cultural policies. Civil society, cultural institutions and communities have become (important) actors in cultural policies. In the specific case of culture public policies we always have a combination of actors, because to be effectively public it requires the participation of various entities in the debates and deliberations, the state and society/cultural community. There is a complexification and a diversity of agents working in the field of cultural policies, which is vital for cultural democracy.

How do you see the possibility for a cultural citizenship in current society?

Citizenship as a “right to have rights” is a democratic achievement of the long struggles waged by workers, women, blacks, LGBT communities, youth, migrants, cultural communities and several other political actors. Citizenship was shaped as the achievement of individual, political, social, environmental and, more recently, cultural rights. Such rights were not handed by the ruling classes, but achieved after a lot of struggle. If the emergence and consolidation of citizenship resulted from this set of historical struggles, a similar challenge is now placed in contemporary times. Neoliberalism, currently in force in many countries and hegemonic in international terms, is one of the greatest enemies of citizenship and citizens’ rights. The possibility of the expansion of citizenship, including cultural, is umbilically associated with the confrontation of neoliberalism. Despite these difficulties, I believe in the possibility of a better and more humane world, in which all have their rights (and duties), including cultural rights guaranteed. If we look at recent times, we can see in a crystalline way the scheduling and vigor of citizenship and cultural rights in the contemporary scenario.


Text: Isabel Macedo
Note: The answers to these questions were provided by e-mail.