Master’s student examines feminism via Brazilian funk

An SOJC PhD student teaches a class
As a graduate teaching assistant and master's student in the SOJC, Suenia de Azevedo found her groove. Drawing from her research interests in gender, race, and sexuality studies in media, her work explores how Brazilian funk singers perceive feminism through their music. Photo by Jeremy Parker

Suenia de Azevedo has always known she was destined to be a teacher. As a young girl in her home country of Brazil, she coached her illiterate grandparents on basic writing while they urged their granddaughter to pursue her education and dreams.

So it goes without saying that she has also been a lifelong learner — and a self-starter. She only learned English 10 years ago, and after graduating from the Federal University of Pernambuco, she enrolled at the UO School of Journalism and Communication, where she’s a graduate teaching assistant and Communication and Media Studies Master's student.

“I came to Oregon because of the interdisciplinary options where I'm able to research women’s studies and the broader concept of communication,” de Azevedo said. “I’ve always wanted to be a professor, and growing up in Pernambuco [Brazil] my grandparents showed me the value of education as a path to better conditions.”

De Azevedo is researching Brazilian funk — a hip-hop-influenced music genre that originated in Rio de Janeiro — and how its artists perceive feminism through the music and lyrics. By digging into the mainstream perceptions of women and gender, she hopes to unpack the messages beyond the academic sphere.

“As a Brazilian woman, I want to comprehend the feminist narratives made by women that use music as a space of resistance,” de Azevedo said. “My goal is to contribute to marginalized women's understanding of the context in which they live.”

It’s not lost on de Azevedo, a strong feminist herself, that Brazilian women are not well represented in American academia. As she moves toward her ultimate goals, she’ll continue to harness her inner fire to change that.

“I am motivated by my professors from undergraduate school and by those in my master’s program here at SOJC,” de Azevedo said. “I also have [famed Brazilian educator and philosopher] Paulo Freire as an inspiration for perceiving education as a practice of freedom.”