For her rigorous research and original approach to connecting electrical energy and culture production in Brazilian literature and art from 1930s to the present, Assoc. Prof. Victoria Saramago received a $60,000 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on Jan. 10. Her book project “Against the Current: Electricity and Cultural Production in Brazil Anthropocene” will investigate the multiple ways in which Brazilian artistic practices have shaped perceptions of the production and consumption of electrical energy, and how electricity has enabled, affected, and, sometimes, destroyed cultural objects.
Saramago contends that modern Brazilian artists have addressed electrification critically, skeptically, and ironically, countering the narrative of progress found in 20th- to early 21st-century Brazilian politics. Their critical views question one of the most basic assumptions from post-World War II to today: that a reliable and growing supply of energy is vital for modern life.
“Victoria Saramago’s scholarship is at the cutting edge of the contemporary environmental humanities and in particular Latin American ecocritical studies,” said Alison James, professor and chair in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at UChicago. “More broadly, Victoria’s scholarship challenges us to reflect on the complex entanglements of representations and reality.