When I did my Masters Degree in Cultural Anthropology, I also wrote my thesis about the Brazilian Black Movement. It was a forming experience for me and it proved to be the sheer meaning of ‘serendipity’ – or going with the flow. In some cases it also meant being thrown out of the flow – on my hands and knees. But that too is part of fieldwork.
In Brazil I listened to the stories people told me about what it means to be black and how they came to see the racism in Brazil. And I listened to speeches at seminars and protest marches – and impromptu hip hop lyrics on busses. At some point I saw the connection. The same stories told in speeches made it into the foundation of peoples identities! It transformed them. And I started dreaming of writing speeches that would do just that: transform.
If you want to read the thesis, you can. It is called Race for Agency (pdf).