text: Master's Degree Program: Learn about the Elliott School's Latin American & Hemispheric Studies program

Supported Research

The Brazil Initiative seeks to foster research on Brazil by the GW community and supports research by faculty as well as graduate and undergraduate students. 


Stephen B. Kaplan

Professor Kaplan's book project seeks to evaluate the effect of growing Chinese economic interdependence on national-level policy choices across Latin America. As part of this research project, he is currently conducting comparative case study investigations in Argentina and Brazil, including field research interviews with key economic officials that governed in the 2000s -- the period characterised by a growing Chinese economic presence in Latin America. Professor Kaplan will also present his work at the Department of Economic's International Relations Seminar at the University of São Paulo (USP).

Esther Brimmer

Will emerging powers contribute to the maintenance of international order? What will be their priorities and what impact will emerging powers have on international affairs? One of the most dynamic emerging powers is Brazil. With the world’s seventh largest economy and aspirations to be permanent member of the UN Security Council—as well as hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics—Brazil is asserting its international presence. Brazil is a member of the G20 and participates in UN peacekeeping forces in the Americas, Africa, and the Mediterranean. 
Will Brazil act like a stakeholder or a naysayer in international politics and what will their choices mean for international order? Professor Brimmer’s work examines Brazil’s role in international organizations to begin to answer this question. Her work will result in three publications: an article in the forthcoming issue of The Washington Quarterly, an article in a collection to be published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States in autumn 2014, and a chapter in a volume to be published by the prominent Brazilian think tank, the Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (CEBRI). In 2014, Professor Brimmer used SOAR and Brazil Initiative funds to conduct research interviews with diplomats in at the UN in New York, with policymakers in Brasilia, and scholars in Rio de Janeiro. Professor Brimmer has developed a new ESIA course to share her research with students. The fall 2014 course is entitled, “Established and Emerging Powers and International Order.
You can read Esther Brimmer's article based on this research in the Washington Quarterly's Fall 2014 issue here: Is Brazil a ‘Responsible Stakeholder’ or a Naysayer?



Sara Homayouni, MA Candidate, 2017 

Sara Homayoni, an MA Candidate in International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, has used funding from the Brazil Initiative in order to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro and intern at Instituto Igarapé. Her research and work particularly focused on asssisting institute coordinator Renata Avelar on research regarding feminicide in Latin America. Sara later complied her research into a literary review which has been incorporated into Avelar's ongoing analysis on the issue. 


Andrés Varona, BA 2014, MA Candidate 2017. 

The community of Itacaré, located in the picturesque Cocoa Coast of the Brazilian state of Bahia, has been developed as an important focal point for ecotourism. The tourism model at this locality, however, has deviated largely from its initial ambitions of community development and environmental protection.  Rather than being managed by local people, the industry has been controlled by external corporate actors, who have prioritized mass marketing and commercialization of this lucrative sector over the social and environmental wellbeing of the receptive community. These actions have resulted in the widespread land speculation and appreciation responsible for gentrifying local residents and rural migrants to the most impoverished and marginalized areas of town. Among the social-environmental issues inflicting the local population are spatial displacement, limited job opportunities, the dwindling availability of potable water and the improper management of garbage and human waste.

To better understand these issues, and through funding from The Brazil Initiative, undergraduate researcher Andrés Varona traveled to Brazil and conducted an in-person participatory study with government, civil society, and business leaders in Itacaré, Bahia. This study analyzed the relationship that the ecotourism model has with the wellbeing of locals and the surrounding environment, and documented the work that community agents are doing to curb these tourism-induced obstacles with innovative locally-sourced solutions. (A PDF version of the report can be downloaded here)


Those interested in receiving Brazil Initiative support for their research should contact program assistant Victoria Tellechea-Rotta ( for more information.