Dr Laura Trajber Waisbich joins LAC in Michaelmas Term 2023 as Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme and Departmental Lecturer in Latin American Studies. Already a familiar face at OSGA, Dr Trajber Waisbich has been a Research Fellow since 2022, affiliated with South Asian Studies Centre.
A Research Masters degree at Sciences Po, Paris first allowed Dr Trajber Waisbich to combine her interests in international relations, Latin American studies and political science. Upon completion of this degree in 2010, she took time out of academia to work in a variety of applied research settings, including NGOs, think tanks and research centres. These wide-ranging experiences included teaching, research and travel as South-South cooperation and dialogue became the focus of her interest and expertise. After seven years working in and around applied research, she was well placed to undertake her PhD in International Development at the University of Cambridge, with a network of cutting-edge contacts to help inform her research.
Since joining OSGA, Dr Trajber Waisbich’s research has centred around issues of South-South development cooperation, looking in particular at the so-called ‘emerging powers’ of China, India and Brazil. In particular, she has been focused on accountability politics, exploring the ways these countries have extended their interactions with other developing countries and how they justify this investment and engagement to their own populations.
In her new role at OSGA, Dr Trajber Waisbich will be running two courses for LAC: the International Relations of Latin America and the Politics of Brazil. She says, “People have been teaching these topics for decades with the same long-standing questions, readings, discussions, theories etc but there is so much new happening now in both areas that I’m looking forward to examining those. The challenge is to bridge what has to be taught as the foundation to understand these regions to what’s new; what are the burning questions and research agendas? What will students be dealing with when they leave OSGA?” For example, the politics of Brazil now encompasses what Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil's far-right president between 2019 and 2022) has meant to the political system, the reconstruction efforts underway now and how they interact with more structural issues such as inequality, poverty, hunger and violence. She says, “These are issues that have been there a long time and not been solved, even as Brazil emerged as a rising power with a growing economy. Studying Brazil is not a unique story any more, as fighting poverty, inequality, hunger and racial discrimination are not just Brazil’s story, but are very much UK and European issues now, too.”
Dr Trajber Waisbich is especially looking forward to beginning her role as Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme. She says, “What’s interesting and beautiful about this programme is it can be the focal point for all studies in and around Brazil at the University, reaching out to different departments and the student and research community, for example, people studying biodiversity in the Amazon. We can start conversations between biologists, geographers, anthropologists… it will be interesting to have the role to link all these people and convene conferences and discussions around their work. It’s a very promising opportunity to connect not only people in Oxford doing Brazil-related research but also elsewhere in the UK and Europe and of course bridging Oxford to universities, foundations and political actors in Brazil.