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Brazil as a BRICS member

From the late 1990s until 2012, Brazil went through a period of widespread economic growth and prosperity, which put Brazil on the list of large, emerging economies, becoming part of the BRICS grouping. That raised Brazil’s profile internationally, adding to its image and probably to its soft power. The long economic boom also pumped even more money into media, and provided funds to let Brazilian governments’ attempt showcase projects, like hosting the World Cup and Olympics. The government of both Fernando Cardoso (1995-2002) and Luiz Lula (2003-2010) wanted to put Brazil in a larger role on the world stage (Cervo, 2010). Like other emerging powers, such as China, the Lula administration in particular saw getting the Olympic Games to Brazil as a way of promoting international awareness of Brazil as an emerging power (Cornelissen, 2010).

However, by the time of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016, there was strong internal opposition to the expenditures required, the dislocation of poor people in Rio, and also the level of corruption that was enabled by the massive construction projects that both sets of games required (Millington and Darnell, 2014), which created negative international news. Both sets of games were successful in some ways, creating certain positive images, but also quite a bit of negative news. Overall, the impact of the two sets of games on Brazil’s soft power abroad had probably been ambivalent.


In this chapter, I argue that soft power from Brazil is primarily created and exercised by commercial cultural industries, like TV Globo, which has massively exported Brazilian culture abroad. This has particularly been in the form of the telenovela, but also magazines and music.TV Globo has extensively reached other Latin American countries and world television programme markets, but has probably had the heaviest impact in other Lusophone countries, notably Portugal and Lusophone Africa. Other major corporations like Editora Abril in magazines and TV Record in television have also been major exporters of Brazilian culture (Davis et

TV Globo expanded abroad in classic media multinational form: primarily as an exporter of telenovelas, second, with targeted investments in Portugal, and third, with satellite channels aimed at Portuguese speaking audiences worldwide. Brazilian TV programme exports are still strong in Latin America, the Lusophone world and globally.A recent TV Globo hit, Avenida Brasil (Brazil Avenue, 2012), was licensed to 106 countries by 2013. Particularly in television, Brazil is a major world exporter (with the associated level of potential soft power) and its telenovelas have found new global audiences via streaming services such as Netflix.To some degree, Brazil became associated in the international television marketplace as well as in audience expectations and experience as a brand with the telenovela genre, the way that India is associated with the brand of Bollywood.

This chapter has argued that the roots of soft power in Brazil have both a cor-poratist and hybrid form. Although the forms of soft power most visible from Brazil are produced by cultural industries, those industries have grown in extensive cooperation with a series of governments. For example, the artists, genres and industry structures of Brazilian music, which is still a force for Brazilian soft power originally grew with extensive support and interaction with government-run Radio Nacional, and TV Globo grew in even more extensive interaction with the military governments. The cultural products that became sources of soft power were originally designed by artists, industries and government to nourish national identity and address national issues. In terms of hybridity, many of these cultural forms and industries also grew and developed their genres, such as bossa nova in music or the telenovela itself, in fairly extensive interaction with US cultural forms and cultural industries, with some input from the US government itself. So soft power from Brazil reflects the unique forms of Brazil, and Latin America, more broadly, that reflect a distinct pattern of cultural industry development with extensive government and US influence.

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