Zaryiah Cribbs: So, I am going to begin with asking questions about your familyhistory, so how did you all, how did you come to be in Louisville? How did you come to be in Louisville?
Anna Browne Ribeiro: So, I came to Louisville for the job at the University, asan assistant professor.
ZC: What country is you, or your family, originally from?
ABR: We are from Brazil.
ZC: How did you, or your family end up in the US?
ABR: When I was seven, I think, my mom - who was a research scientist - got aninvitation from the, someone working for the FDA. Or, no it was the NIH, National Institute of Health, to do a collaboration and that became, like, a year long fellowship. So we all were, you know, we all moved to Maryland. And it was just suppose to be for a year and then it got extended a couple years. And then there was a really complicated process for the next eight or nine years where we did not know where we were going to stay. And then we eventually got a green card.
ZC: And what did your mom mainly do in research, like what did she research?
ABR: She researched the Hepatitis virus, so you know how there is like A and B?And then they isolated C and I think she was a part of that. And then they also isolated like D, E and F - other ones. So, she worked with a bunch of people who were working on that.
ZC: What do you remember most about your home country or city?
ABR: Oh. I remember that it was really green. We lived between like theinterface between the mountain and the beach. So, I remember being really close to the beach and like (???) plants, like palm trees and banana trees and stuff like that. Yeah.
Olivia Smith: That's pretty.
ZC: I should visit Brazil.
ZC: Can you tell me about the people who raised you? Like what is their story?What was their courtship, what did they do for a living? I know we talked about your mom.
ABR: Wow, their courtship (laughs). So my parents both met when they were bothstudying abroad, getting advanced degrees in the Boston providence area. And they were introduced because they were both Brazilian. And there was like a little, kind of network of Brazilians and also Portuguese people who I guess hung out. So, they would have not met otherwise. My mother is from the south of Brazil and my dad is from the north east. So, they had to go to the providence to meet which I think is, like, weird. And so he was studying math and she was studying molecular biology.
ZC: How often do you get to go back home? And how often do your parents go back home?
ABR: So, I go a lot because I do research in Brazil. So I can tack on trips togo to see my family. I do not get to Rio very often because it is far away from my research site. My folks go every five or six years. We get to go with family, yeah.
ZC: Can you tell me about your schooling as a child?
ABR: Yeah, so, when I was in Brazil I went to a montessori school, when I wasreally little. And then, the director was like going crazy.
ABR: Yeah, she started saying all kinds of crazy things. Like we were all giftedand like talking about unseen powers. And so, all of the parents got together and were like we need to pull our children out of this school. And so they had us test into private schools, because the public school system was not very good - for lack of better words. So I went to catholic school for a little bit and I hated it. And so when my mom said we were moving to the United States I was really happy.
ZC: Do you think the public school system has changed since you were small?
ABR: I think they have improved somewhat but I think anyone that has some sortof access or access to scholarships would probably opt to send their kids to private school. And that is in the South. In the North I worked at a lot of the public schools and I think they are awesome.
ZC: Who were people who influenced you growing up?
ABR: Boy. My parents, a lot. When we moved here we did not have much of anetwork. So, it was like my parents, my teachers and people at like the after school program where I went - because my parents worked pretty long hours.
ZC: What were your plans for yourself when you were a child?
ABR: Well, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I grew out of that and wanted to bea doctor. I wanted to be a doctor for a long long time. A doctor or a lawyer. Yeah.
ABR: And that changed.
ZC: (laughs) Did you grow up speaking Spanish?
ABR: I grew up speaking Portuguese.
ZC: What was your experience like learning English?
ABR: I feel like I just learned it at school mostly. I mean my parents spokeEnglish so they really emphasized that we should speak English at home when we first came here. We had classes at school but we did not really learn a lot, so I mostly learned it when I came here. It did not feel like it was a huge barrier, because I was pretty - my brother was older and had a tougher time. He was in ESL for several years.
ZC: Is he into research as well?
ABR: My brother wants to make money!
ZC: Tell me about any Latino cultural experiences you grew up with?
ABR: So we had a couple things. In the first couple years, when we moved to theMaryland/ D.C. Area, my parents did have a couple of Brazilian friends - who were there for a number of reasons, often related to foreign service. Basically, all the Brazilians know each other so we would have Brazilian Thanksgiving! Where we would have our improved version of the turkey - which none of us could really phase.
ABR: And we would have barbeques. Because, you know, churrasco in Brazil theressuppose to be big gatherings and feijoada. So, usually gatherings around food.
ZC: Can you spell both of those? (laughs)
ABR: Churrasco? Yeah! C-H-U-R-R-A-S-C-O. That is our word for barbeque. Andthen, feijoada. F-E-I-J-O-A-D-A. And it is like a peppy, black bean dish. So, it is sort of seasonally dependent. Anyone that had kids around that were our age were usually scheduled to play with. So I had a couple Brazilian friends that I played with. And then the Brazilian community that my parents had known kind of disappointed and I do not know if it is because they had to change jobs a lot. So, I feel like initially my dad was kind of consulting with Pan American Health Association and that is how we were connected with a lot of Brazilians, and that sort of faded away. Then, he got involved in a Latin American choir, so I had a lot of experiences with Latinas from all over the place and also Caucasian people who were interested in singing. So a lot of it was through song and then we would have lots of gatherings. We would go to all the concerts, like four or five concerts a year and they would also have barbeques and other gatherings. So that is how I learned some of the Spanish that I speak.
ZC: Now, the scheduled play dates that you had, are you still friends with anyof those?
ABR: No, they like disappeared. My best friend for the first few years after Imoved here was this kid named Bernardo. But I think his parents, you know most of the Brazilians that we knew were only there for a short time, so they probably just moved back at some point.
ZC: How did you culturally, racially identify growing up?
ABR: Racially, I did not really, because it is not something we really talkedabout. Culturally I identified as Brazilian. I did not really identify as Latina, early on. That was not a word we used a lot - people used the word Hispanic. My parents would be like "we are not Hispanic because we do not speak Spanish." When I went to middle school, because I was in a predominately white neighborhood when I was in Elementary school, and I went to middle school I was in a much more integrated, racially and ethnically integrated, school. I became to really think about, rethink those categories and think about how people were identifying me and whether that identified me. So that changed a lot. When I was in high school I identified as mixed.
ZC: Who or what has inspired you as an adult?
ABR: Definitely, god so many people. Definitely, my professor of Middle Easterncultures, who was a woman. Who was just amazing. Can I say she was a total badass?
ABR: She was a total badass. She was really, really passionate in the way shetaught. It was the first time that I started really thinking about the systems that underlie the things that people have access to and racial culture and economic dynamics. She was probably the person that made me rethink my initial decision to go into the medical field, to go into something that had to do with cultures and society. Even though I did not really know what that was at the time, and this was my second year of college.
ZC: Any others?
ABR: Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Angela Davis. The Dalai Lama.
ZC: Can you spell that name?
ABR: The Dalai Lama? D-A-L-A-I-L-A-M-A. And that is a title, and I have to behonest I do not know the name of the current Dalai Lama. But, pretty much all of them are badasses.
ABR: Because they are voices for peace.
ZC: What education have you received as an adult?
ABR: I got my bachelors, my BA and then a MA and then a PHD.
ZC: What which Universities?
ABR: I went to college at Columbia University. I was very fortunate because theyhad this amazing scholars program, they would not say what for but we figured out that it was all first generation immigrants. The dean of that program, when I was in college, as a really important figure because she was the one that helped me figure out my major and encouraged me to peruse this more social studies. Then I got my MA and PHD at the University of Berkley.
ZC: So this kind of ties into what you said, but how did you choose your career?What was the process of entering it?
ABR: My focus is in Archeology. I never would have thought that archeology is areal career that people had. Like I said, I went to school and told my parents I was going to be a doctor or a lawyer or maybe a computer scientist because I was at a program for that and I was pretty good at that. It was a lot of talking with, I can not believe I can not remember her name, the Dean of my program. I remember her face. She was really helpful. Talking to various professors, I just went to all the professors, some that I had had core courses with and some that were chairs of programs and just talked to them. Like what do I need to do to do this? What does a person do with this degree? But also just realizing that I was not satisfied with the explanations that I was given about why there were inequalities, like racial and social and ethnic disparities. I would go to the Latino social group, where we were suppose to be networking. The only people we were suppose to be networking with, our mentors were all people in the business world. And I was like well I do not want to do business, like why do I not have mentors like me that are exploring these social justice issues? I just kept going and I kept exploring and whenever there was an opportunity I just kind of followed it. I actually found it really easy to not be questioned about my race or ethnic background when I went abroad. When I was living in England those things did not seem to matter the same way, so I spent a lot of time there, I really like living there. And when I got into grad school, I got into many programs but the one that was most inspiring was UC Berkley because they had this big outreach program to the local schools.
ZC: Were there obstacles based on race, ethnicity and identity - choosing thiscareer path?
ABR: I would say no because Anthropology tends to like diversity. Well, also bythe time I was getting into grad school there were a bunch of diversity fellowships so I got a diversity fellowship. So it was the other way around.
ZC: How does race, ethnicity, identity inform how you do your work?
ABR: Oh my god. It is totally embedded into everything I do. Like I said, I wastrained to be an archeologist and started going into the field and even though I liked being in the field, I did not really like some of the North American, more powerful, academics were engaging with local communities- that was before I was in grad school. When I was in grad school I was in a really amazing program where people were really concerned with decolonizing archeology and doing work that was grassroots and community oriented. So all the work I do today, I never want to do anything or step foot in anything if they do not want me there. I always try to give them something material like immediately after my first visit and the whole point of it is how can I tailor my research so that it gives you something important.
ZC: Have you come into contact with those communities that do not want you to beinvolved with them?
ABR: We have had some issues. Certainly most communities in Brazil have ageneral temerity, they are certainly gun shy about people who come around and say they are archeologists because there is a long history of archeologists coming to sites from the nineteen teens upward to the eighties or nineties or even really recently saying, "oh, we are researchers and we are going to take these things" and they are usually objects, cultural objects, usually ceramics - pretty pottery - and then they say "we are going to go study these" and then people are like, "well they never came back, and we do not know what they found, and they took our things." It's complicated because according to the Brazilian government they do not belong to the community they belong to the national patron, their national heritage. But, it does not mean that they can not have a conversation about that and return something to the community. It usually takes a long time for a community to, like if you have not been invited, it takes some time for a community to become accustomed to the idea that what you are doing is okay. It is actually seldom that they feel like they have gotten what they wanted. The last two projects that I have done are strictly projects where there has been an invitation and even then we run into some problems because sometimes the archeological needs combat development needs. If there's a development project that is going to help the community but there's an archeological site there's all this stuff that has to happen. So communities can become polarized about that.
ZC: How do you self identify now with your Latino culture as an adult?
ABR: I identify as Latina. I identify as an immigrant from South America. Manyaspects of my life, I am certain, have been shaped by the fact I am Latina. I have had a lot of experiences in my day to day life where it is clear I am being profiled. It is funny because you know my parents did not understand this, so they were like "I do not understand why these Americans are so dumb and they are calling us Hispanic" and they would say "that does not matter" but it does. It has become very clear to me over the years that it does really matter. I tried to show them that we can not pretend this is not real like we are Latinos and this is where we stand in this society.
ZC: Did your parents ever share with you issues they went through being Latinohere, in their workforce?
ABR: Yeah. My dad never did, because my dad does not do that type of thing. But,my mom shared some stories from when she was a grad student. And stories from when she was called an Indian. I mean this is in the seventies but there is no excuse. But also of being an immigrant and not having a support network and being taken advantage of at work in term of her ideas and being passed over and people not collaborate. She had to leave.
ZC: Has your idea of what community is changed over time?
ABR: Yeah, very much so.
ZC: How has your community changed over time?
ABR: It has really expanded. It started in college when I started interactingwith more Latino communities and understanding that there was a shared set of struggles that we share. Until I learned Spanish fluently, I felt like that was kind of a barrier. Now i feel like my community is evolved with Latinos from all different countries and backgrounds and whether they are first generation immigrants or their families have been here for generations.
ZC: Did you find it was a challenge learning Spanish?
ABR: Sometimes. Not because the language itself but in some places I foundpeople being proprietary of Spanish. Like they did not think I should be speaking Spanish because I was. Which I thought was really weird. Like when I traveled abroad people were like, "Oh I am so glad you speak Spanish! You speak it better than the average Brazilian, I can understand you. This is great." But when I was in certain communities in California, people were definitely like, "you're not Mexican." And so I felt very intimidated.
ZC: And you discussed this a little, but can you discuss some challengesconfronting your community?
ABR: I think there a lot. I think being Brazilian, kind of made me feeldifferent. I do not even know how much of that came from other people. I think a lot of it is because Brazilians in Latin America tend to be like we are different because we speak Portuguese and we have a different historical trajectory. But that is a total myth. It is all tap down government nonsense where there was this whole push in the early twentieth century to get Brazilians to identify as Brazilians and not as people from somewhere else. A lot of Brazilians just kind of bought into that. I think that was a struggle that came through my parents.
ZC: Do your parents still think that way?
ABR: To an extent, yeah. It is really hard to get out of. I have actually beenstudying this too, like as a seperate line of research - the idea of "Brazlianess" and the fact that all over Brazil people will be like, "No this is the real Brazil, this is what Brazilians are like." And they are all different and I think it is, not insane, but really interesting because it is like this hegemonic identity people have taken up.
ZC: Have you experienced discrimination being "othered"? Or felt like you didnot belong in Louisville? Or Kentucky?
ABR: I have not been here very long. Where is this going?
ZC: The library.
ABR: I would say in general, no. But in some specific context, yes.
ZC: If so what happened?
ABR: I think I do not think I really want to talk about that, sorry.
ZC: Have you seen evidence of anti-blackness or anti-indigenous roots prejudicein your community?
ABR: Yeah. In Louisville? If you mean Louisville then yes.
ZC: Can you tell me about it?
ABR: Besides the structural inequalities about where people live and the waycertain areas are zoned off and services being denied and things like that. Mostly what I have seen recently is anti-immigrant. I can not tell you I have witnessed any anti-indigenous here.
ZC: Have you witnessed that in other parts you have been, in the US?
ABR: Nothing direct.
ZC: What resources does your community have? Physical, spiritual, cultural fordealing with those challenges, anti-immigrant in the case?
ABR: In my community? None.
ZC: What do you see as likely changes for your community in the near future?
ABR: I do not know. There are resources, that I have not tapped into. Outside ofthe University I know there is La Casita and places where latinx people can come together and use those areas for healing and for education and for learning and for sharing resources. I know the Cultural Center is there. I know that we have a faculty organization - Helsa. But I do not know that I have really felt their presence. I know there are a lot of things at the University of Louisville, but it has all felt very disarticulated. I think it is interesting as someone who teaches about Brazil and specializes in Brazil and the amazon, I have never been able to teach a class that is course listed with LALS and that might be an example of how Brazil is not excluded on purpose, but how that is not naturally thought about in that way.
ZC: How did you become interested on doing your research on the amazon?
ABR: I was doing archeology all over, wherever I was invited. I was working alot in Guatemala and Belize, and my brother, this is interesting. The economist, as he is, sent a piece that he found in "The Economist" that talked about some archeologist that had found lost cities and long lost civilizations in the Amazon. And I was like, "Wow that does not sound right!" I went and chased up a reference and realized there was this whole world of societies in my country that nobody had ever paid any attention to. It was this weird patriotic - like if this is happening I want to be a part of it! I want to make sure the world knows about it. My major research question is, why do people imagine that there were not indigenous peoples living in Brazil in the past doing amazing things? And why are we not in the museums? Why are these people not in museums? I should say that part of my father's heritage is indigenous. But it was not initially a major reason, a major reason was that I could do this awesome work and I can go home. I can go home as often as I want because I will be doing work.
ZC: Can you describe your experiences there while doing research?
ABR: It has been an incredibly rich experience. Discovering some of the things Iwas telling you about like the different Brazils. Like there is a whole other Brazil that people do not think about. When I go there I am white, right? Because I am not super indigenous and now I work in the Senate Maroon companies. But then people will be like, "Oh I can see you are descended from the same people we are because I can see the traces and you are one of us." So it has been really emotionally kind of crazy. It has made me go back and question y parents about our heritage because it was always like "Oh, no we are Brazilian." On my mom's side there is also Italian Heritage, but I wanted to know like what does that mean? Like who are we?
ZC: Did they give you answers?
ABR: Some. A lot of it has been erased since they were not taking that datadown, especially during dictatorship. The answers that I got were, "Yeah we probably have African indigenous and a lot of Iberian heritage on my dad's side."
ZC: Did you talk to your grandparents about your research findings? Or havequestions for them?
ABR: I wanted to but my grandmother passed six months before I was able to ask her.
ZC: Did you face different experiences being Latina since you lived in the Eastand West of the US?
ZC: Can you describe those experiences?
ABR: Yeah, living on the West Coast was very liberating. I did not feeldiscriminated on based on my looks. People did not make any assumptions. I lived in the Bay Area everybody was expected to be multiethnic and multilingual. I really loved living there. When I went to school in New York, and in D.C., I would get a lot of questions about my ethnicity. People assuming I was something else, sometimes speaking to me in a language I did not understand. I do not mean Spanish. Spanish I could get by. People speaking to me in like Hebrew. They are very, very different.
ZC: If you could pick a place to live right now besides Kentucky or Louisville,where would it be?
ABR: Bay Area.
ZC: Nice. Is it a challenge to separate your personal views from professionalviews when doing research?
ABR: I would say yes, but that is necessary. Understanding that my personalviews are embedded in my research questions and being explicate about that I think makes me a better researcher. If I were a white Caucasian male, I may assume that I had no biases or no prior experiences that colored my view, because that is the normal view. That is normative. It can be hard and that is actually in my teaching too, but I am really open with my students and tell them, "This is embedded in there and you guys do not have to agree with me and no one has to agree with me. But, this is how I see the world." And we all do that.
ZC: Do you have students that disagree with what you say? Or what you teach?
ABR: I have had students who disagree in writing, on paper. And they are free todo that. And I always tell them that they can disagree with each other on forum, they can do that too as long as everyone is using evidence based arguments. I have never had someone disagree with me to my face. But that is probably because the power dynamic.
ZC: Are there things I have not talked about that you would like to add?
ABR: I think that one experience that I had that may be kind of unusual. Becauseboth of my parents both spoke English and they emphasized English so much in that household. I never had language problems much while growing up and going to a predominantly white school and living in a predominately white neighborhood, we were definitely discriminated against. By the time I was ten I did not want anything to do with Portuguese, I refused to answer in Portuguese. I almost forgot the language completely. I first came here when I was eight, when I was sixteen I went back and I could barely have a conversation. It was mortifying because then my cousins and friends were accusing me of being Americanized. It was sort of excluding me from my country. That was really hurtful and difficult. So I started working really hard to try to try to learn Portuguese again. And then again when I started doing research in Brazil I would face some challenges with language - especially technical language. So I got the opportunity to live and do research in Brazil full time for a couple of years and I took it and I would have stayed. And now we have a major crisis that is on going but five years ago it looked like there were more jobs and I would have stayed.
ZC: In relearning Portuguese did your parents help you?
ABR: They did. They criticize a lot so it was kind of hard. The first time Iwent back, I went with my family, and they were really helpful in bridging the language gap. But I realized that would not help me learn and I did not like them interfering so I actually worked for a couple summers and then went back for two months on my own to stay with various family members and friends and I think that is the thing helped the most. Just doing immersion again, on my own.
ZC: That concludes the interview. Thank you so much.