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Gregor Fuller at Exeter Quay

Take a tour of Exeter in Brazilian Portuguese

Gregor Fuller is studying Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Exeter and is part of an exciting new programme in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies. As with all students in the programme, Gregor started learning Portuguese as a beginner, specialising in Brazilian Portuguese after his year abroad.

Gregor’s study of the Portuguese language was helped by a year at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil and when he came back to Exeter he created a brilliant video on the sights of Exeter:  

Portuguese Studies at Exeter was launched as a programme in 2014, recruiting up to 15 students every year and the first cohort of students in Modern Languages and Cultures successfully graduated in 2018. Students acquired the two standardised varieties of Portuguese (European and Brazilian) up to advanced level. Through literature, film and linguistics, the students also engage with the multiple realities, identities, cultures and the intertwined histories that have had a profound impact on the societies and cultures as well on the linguistic make-up of the Portuguese-speaking world. For most of them, Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies was completely unchartered territory.

The year abroad was a turning point. Exeter has a student exchange scheme with partner universities in Portugal (University of Porto and the University of Coimbra) and Brazil (UFCB - Federal University of Santa Catarina). Many students have also taken up work placements in Portugal and Brazil, for example in law firms, translation or proof-reading companies, NGOs and charities. In the final year students can write a dissertation, deepening their knowledge on aspects of the Portuguese-speaking world. Recent dissertation projects include postcolonial varieties of Portuguese, Cuban-Angolan relations, Tropicália movement in Brazil and representation of the favela in film.

The University of Exeter also offers Portuguese in the Foreign Language Centre’s (FLC) evening language programme which offers language courses for university students, staff, Alumni and members of the public. The Portuguese language modules have been very popular each year.

Portuguese is one of the most widespread languages in the world with over 240 million speakers across eight countries and four continents. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that in 2050 the number of speakers will rise to nearly 400 million. On 5th May, Portuguese is celebrated in countries across the world for the UNESCO “World Portuguese language day”. Celebrating Portuguese means celebrating cultural diversity and multilingualism. It is also a moment of critical reflection on the shared histories and complexities of the use of Portuguese, which has coexisted, displaced and mixed with other languages. It is against this backdrop that we also celebrate Portuguese at the University of Exeter precisely in the same spirit. Studying Portuguese at Exeter goes beyond the understanding of the language and the associated diverse cultures within the boundaries of the nation-state and embraces the wider Portuguese-speaking space and its complex relations.

Dr Susana Afonso, Senior Lecturer in Portuguese says: “In these uncertain times, there’s a real urgency to train the next generation to think beyond national boundaries, beyond a monolithic view of language, and to think about the world from an alternative paradigm to the European, white, male-dominated discourse. This is at the core of the Luso-Afro-Brazilian studies at Exeter and of our commitment to current and future generations of students of Portuguese.”

Modern Languages at Exeter ranks in the top 10 in all major UK university league tables.

Date: 13 May 2020