Interview: Dr. Denise Wiedemann

It is with great pleasure that we publish our first interview, an effort that takes multiple people from multiple backgrounds to be finished. I am not going to give away our process, but let’s say it included a list of researchers and relevant people in the field and we eagerly look for someone in that same area of interest to interview them. Networking is everything, apparently.

I cannot thank enough everyone that made this possible, but also to Dr. Weidemann, who generously agreed to talk to us. We start with her bio and we continue to her interview, which was conducted by Luísa Torres. The discussion spans over social media, courts, marriage and consumer arbitration. It is a must-read!

Matheus Lucas Hebling


Interviewee: Dr. Denise Wiedemann
Interviewer: M.A. Luísa Turbino Torres


Denise’s Bio

Denise studied in Meißen and Leipzig and completed a LL.M. in Lisbon (LL.M.), where she undertook coursework in European law and comparative law. After her first state exam in law in 2013, she was awarded a doctoral scholarship by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. In 2014 Denise was a visiting researcher at the Centre de recherche de droit international of the Université Panthéon Assas (Paris II). From 2015 she was engaged as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, where she assumed the leadership of the Latin America desk in 2017. Denise’s Phd was awarded with the Feldbausch-Price and the Otto-Hahn-Medal in 2017. After legal clerkship stations in Brasilia and New York, she sat for the second state exam in law in 2018.




Social Media – influencers and users as consumers (Brazil and Europe)

With the growth of social media in the past decade and the emergence of influencers/content creators as producers and users as consumers, what are the legal implications we need to consider in this new dynamic?  Why do we need to pay attention to this? 

Influencer marketing became an important advertising tool during the last few years. Posts, stories, or videos on social media platforms or blogs about clothing, cosmetics, sports, or traveling come across as authentic, and they have the potential to catch consumers from all over the world. From a private international law perspective, the emergence of influencers raises a critical question: is a professional who uses this cross-border marketing strategy and attracts consumers from another country subject to the jurisdiction and laws of a consumer’s home state? Within the European Union, the decisive criterion to answer this question is whether the professional directed its commercial activity to the consumer’s state (Art. 17 Brussels Ibis-Regulation/Art. 6 Rome I-Regulation). However, this approach leaves considerable room for interpretation.


What are some of the differences in influencer advertising regulations in Brazil and Germany? 

Section 5a of the German Act against Unfair Competition requires identifying the commercial intent of a practice. Accordingly, some courts obliged influencers with many followers to mark all their posts as an advertisement. Other courts decided the opposite, arguing that this identification is unnecessary because the commercial intent obviously derives from the large number of followers. Thus, in Germany, there is much insecurity about when and how an influencer has to disclose a relationship with a company. The German Federal Court is expected to render a clarifying decision soon. Furthermore, some wannabe-influencers mark all their posts as an advertisement to suggest that they have a relationship with a company and – according to the principle “fake it till you make it” – lead people to believe that they are already successful.
In Brazil, influencers must obey the general rules for advertising provided by Conar (Conselho Nacional de Autorregulamentação Publicitária – National Council for Advertising Self-regulation) and the CDC (Código de Defesa do Consumidor – Consumer Protection Code), which seek to prevent misleading or abusive advertising. Accordingly, influencers must identify a post as an advertisement when it displays a product or service of a certain brand, even if there is no direct commercial relationship, but the influencer, for example, received a gift. Therefore, influencers with a large amount of followers do not always have to mark their post as an advertisement but only if there is a direct or indirect relationship with a company.


Media presence of courts (Brazil and Germany)

You recently wrote about media presence of courts and the principle of public disclosure from a comparative perspective in Germany and Brazil. What are some of the most striking differences between these legal systems when it comes to that? 

Compared to the German Federal Constitutional Court and, moreover, the German Federal Court, the Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal) has wide publicity: Since 2002, the Supremo Tribunal Federal is broadcasting its hearings live on TV Justiça, a state TV channel. Similar systems exist in other Latin American states. Besides other factors (politicized appointment procedure for judges, the publication of dissenting opinions), hearings’ publicity can contribute to judges’ increased visibility in the media. Gilmar Mendes, a Brazilian Justice of the Supremo Tribunal Federal, welcomed the fact that judges are as well-known as football players because the public eye could prevent corruption and force judges to work faster. In Germany, federal judges are less visible. In the vast majority of cases, it is the court spokesperson and not judge who appears in front of the camera. A judge speaks only through his or her judgment. Even if judges are not prohibited by law from appearing in public, it prevails a reluctant attitude.


Early marriage (Latin America)

What is the current situation of early marriage in Latin America? 

While child marriage rates have declined in the entire world since the 1980s, Latin America has not yet reached a decreasing trend. According to UNICEF statistics, in Latin America, one woman in four aged between 20 and 24 was married before reaching 18 years old (but after the age of 15). Moreover, 5% of women were married before reaching the age of 15. The dispersion of early marriages varies considerably between the individual Latin American countries. The statistics are led by the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Belize, where more than 30% of women are married before reaching the age of 18. Brazil ranks in the middle with 26%.
During the last years, almost all Latin American countries have raised the age limit for marriage to 16 or 18 years and eliminated exemption procedures. For instance, in Brazil, marriage is considered legal by reaching the age of 16 (Art. 1517, 1520 CC 2002). Since 2019, a judicial exemption for younger people is no longer possible (Lei No. 13.811).
However, the legal amendments have not significantly impacted the number of child marriages so far, mainly due to two reasons. First, in parts of society, early marriage is still considered important because marriage can raise social status and is only accepted as a framework for (female) sexuality and reproduction. Second, UNICEF includes not only formal (civil) marriages but also informal unions under the term “marriage.” Informal unions are characterized by the fact that partners live in a shared household but are unmarried. In Latin America, early informal unions predominate early formal marriage. Indigenous communities and poor rural regions often ignore civil requirements for marriages and establish marriages according to the community’s customs. Thus, in societies where social expectations to marry still exist (for reasons of social status, sexuality, and reproduction), those expectations are not necessarily linked to civil marriage. Rather, customary or religious marriage is what counts in the eyes of society.


Property law (Latin America)

What are some of the legal implications for property law and some conflicts that are significant in the region? 

Objects that are firmly connected to the land can, in principle, only be transferred together with the land as accomplished by the entry in the real estate register. Aiming to facilitate a transfer of ownership in goods that are still firmly rooted in the land, some Latin American legal systems adopted the theory of anticipated movable goods from French law as early as the early 20th century. Accordingly, ownership in anticipated movable goods, e.g., trees scheduled for clearing, can, like movable goods, often be transferred by simple agreement. Transfer of ownership outside of the real estate register can, however, compromise legal certainty. It is difficult to determine whether objects connected to the land are owned by the landowner or have a separate owner.


Consumer arbitration (Europe)

Consumer arbitration is already common in the United States. What is the current situation in Europe? What are the consequences of replacing courts with private tribunals in disputes between companies and consumers?

In Europe, arbitration clauses in consumer contracts are rare. There is no unification and no single approach of the European Union. The Unfair Contract Terms Directive of the European Union lists examples of terms that may be regarded as unfair. One of those examples touches upon arbitration. A term may be regarded as unfair if it excludes “[…] the consumer’s right to take legal action […], particularly by requiring the consumer to take disputes exclusively to arbitration not covered by legal provisions[…].” The meaning of that phrase is not obvious at all, as national arbitral statutes usually cover arbitrations. Thus, the directive on unfair contract terms does not ban consumer arbitration, and it gives considerable leeway to the EU Member States. The Member States’ positions towards consumer arbitration are far from identical. The different solutions range from entirely banning consumer arbitration (e.g., Czech Republic) to institutional consumer arbitration (e.g., Spain).
Advocates of consumer arbitration often raise an economic argument. It is assumed that companies will only impose arbitration clauses on their consumers if they consider arbitration cheaper than litigation. Suppose they can choose arbitration as the cheaper way of dispute resolution. In that case, consumers would eventually benefit from cheaper products and services. Nevertheless, if one accepts that consumers are different from traders (because most of them are less experienced), then the traditional arbitration proceedings, which were designed for commercial disputes, lack a number of safeguards. The first concerns international jurisdiction and applicable law: in the European Union, regulations, called Brussels Ibis-Regulation and Rome I-Regulation, contain special protection for consumers that do not necessarily apply to arbitration. The second issue regards the right to have public proceedings; arbitration proceedings are confidential and, therefore, lack public supervision. Furthermore, a last crucial drawback of consumer arbitration is that the principle of finality governs arbitration. The award may only be set aside for specific reasons. Litigation, in contrast, allows for an appeal.

January 21st, 2021|Categories: Vol. 2 Num. 1|Tags: |

Ford of Brazil: A foreshadowed farewell

by Lucas Thixbai Freitas Fraga, Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling

2021 started with a shock for the Brazilian industry. After more than 100 years of operation in Brazil, Ford Company Brazil decided to close its operations. With more than 5,000 direct employees, the closure of factories in the country tends to worsen a scenario that is already dramatic for the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the slow process of economic recovery. The company has accumulated billionaire losses in recent years, claiming that some problems with its performance in the country, such as the context of slowing demand for cars, the disappointing growth of the economy, and a predatory tax structure contribute to making Brazil a ‘bad environment for business’. The biggest difficulties refer to the circumstances of a structural problem in productivity, especially in the manufacturing industry, which makes Brazil a country where it is difficult to envision a scenario of expansion of productive capacity and increase in investments, and this implies unpredictability and insecurity in the medium and long terms.

But who is to blame after all? According to the National Association of Vehicle Manufacturers (ANFAVEA), automotive production reached 2.4 million units produced in 2019, above that seen in the previous four years, but below the nearly 3 million units produced in 2013. Also, between 2009 and 2015, the number of car sales was higher than the number produced, which indicated that this sector was heated and with little or no idle capacity. The setback came from 2016, with a serious political crisis that spilled into the economic sphere, causing a 10% drop in production from one year to the next due to a drop of more than 20% in demand for automobiles. The question then refers to which companies were able to compete in the Brazilian market – with a modest consumer about the European or American consumer – and thus guarantee ‘their share in the cake’ in the periods 2009-2015, and their perspective of security after that period and the crisis that followed.

In the last 20 years, Ford has failed to achieve even a 12% share of cumulative car sales in Brazil. According to data from FENABRAVE – National Federation of the Distribution of Motor Vehicles – the peak of Ford’s Market Share was in 2015, reaching an 11.15% share in the national market. In 2001, this figure reached 6.7%, much lower than its traditional competitors in Brazil, such as General Motors, Volkswagen, and Fiat, which also have a long presence in the country and are currently the leading companies in the Brazilian automotive market. Competition from other companies such as Renault, Hyundai, Toyota, and Nissan also contributed to the pressure on the share that Ford had previously held.

Ford’s participation in the registration of Motor Vehicles in Brazil – 2000 to 2019


Despite the drastic reception of the company’s decision, this news cannot be treated in any way as unexpected. In 2018, Ford announced a global restructuring, ending the production of some models and focusing on the development of specific categories such as SUVs, pickups, and commercial vehicles. The closure of factories in Europe and Australia would be a prelude to what would happen in Brazil. However, the company’s operations do not end in South America. It was also announced that Ford would concentrate its production on the continent in Argentina and Uruguay. Well, if the scenario of deterioration in the Argentine economy – evidenced by its macroeconomic problems and successive crises in the last decades – was not seen as enough for Ford’s final decision, then it is worth reflecting on what directions the Brazilian industrial sector intends.

The closure of Ford’s activities not only involves problems about the generation of jobs and income (especially in the manufacturing regions) but also about the strategic role of the sector for the construction of genuinely national automobile industry. The factories located in the Northeast and Southeast regions of Brazil produced everything from basic utilities to off-road models. This last model was produced under the brand Troller, a Brazilian company acquired by Ford in 2007. With the end of its production activities in Brazil, the Troller factory will also be decommissioned. Then another company could be the protagonist of a national industrial development project.

Ford does not become exclusive when it comes to the Brazilian industrial sector. This scenario is not restricted to the automobile sector. Many companies have chosen or are considering ending production here. Companies like Sony, Nikon, and Roche Laboratories are leaving or have already left the country. Even Brazilian companies such as the giant Petrobras have chosen to transfer their contracts for the construction of oil platforms to Asia, causing a serious impact on the already staggering shipbuilding sector. This makes the country’s deindustrialization context evident and this can be shown through the behavior of the industrial sector in its participation in Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product.

Industry’s share of Brazilian GDP

Source: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, National Account System.

        Finally, it is important to highlight the failure of the industrial development policy design adopted here in the last decade. The attempt of domestic production of (almost) whole chairs of medium and high sophistication products combined with problems with productive scale and low productivity generated the construction of an artificial industrial park tied to internal demands, considering that other countries manage to produce such products more cheaply and efficiently. The relentless search for surpluses in the trade balance – composed mainly of primary goods – impedes the continuous flow of imports of goods that replenishes products in the internal chains and improves the domestic production of goods with higher added value. The attempt to avoid these imports through policies aimed at valuing domestic production to the detriment of the external sector already has an end known here. As Edmund Burke said, “a people who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it”.

See more

Anfavea. (2021). Anuário da Associação Nacional dos Fabricantes de Veículos Automotores. : ANFAVEA. Fonte:

Fenabrave. (2021). Anuário do Setor automotivo. Federação Nacional da Distribuição de Veículos Automotores.

IBGE. (2021). Contas nacionais. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Fonte:

Samor, G., & Arbex, P. (2021). Marcos Lisboa: lições da saída da Ford do Brasil. : Brazil Journal. Fonte:

January 18th, 2021|Categories: Vol. 2 Num. 1|Tags: |

Introducing BRaS Blog Interviews – the door is open, come in!

It does not matter your field – academia, business, NGO [and whatever else you might think about, create, or consider] – the watchword is network. Apparently, you cannot go too far without a really well-connected and strategic network. However, despite the trend, I feel like we do not really dedicate time to reflect on what network [and networking] means, as well as which ones we want to build and take part in, both in a broader and a personal sense. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a network is “a large system consisting of many similar parts that are connected together to allow movement or communication between or along the parts, or between the parts and a control centre.” In other words, it is a net of people with similar values and/or expertise who may support each other in achieving personal or collective goals – at least, this would be my definition.

Here, my highlight is on similar values and/or expertise, especially because of the challenging times we live, when science fights a daily battle against negationism. More than ever, the saying “who will be in the trenches next to you matters more than the war itself” is a priceless lesson. Yes, political scientists may also be hopeful and cheesy – at least this one.

For a long time, I struggled to cope with the competitive and lonely environment academia mostly is. At the same time, I perceived “this is how things are done” [as in “the system”], but I could not help myself but wonder how better [and healthier] it would be to work and learn in a collaborative atmosphere. At some point, wondering about a collaborative network was not enough anymore. The ideas about an organization where researchers could work together towards bringing science and society closer, presenting high-quality research in a knowledgeable and democratically accessible approach became a project – BRaS. 

The Brazilian Research and Studies Center (BRaS) members believe in the worth of inter and transdisciplinary research to understand political, social, economic, and cultural developments in Brazil. We believe in group work and in constructive debates to promote and disseminate research on Brazil from all Human and Social Sciences areas. Our network transcends the mere idea of a group of researchers with the same keywords under their abstracts. Our strengths are diversity and the determination to invest and increase the plurality of our network.  

Of course, it could not be different in our beloved BRaS Blog. I am particularly passionate about this project because it provides the perfect opportunity to invite researchers to get out of their comfort zones, to communicate and interact collaboratively. From an approachable – one might even say in a “more Brazilian” – way.

Besides the aim to share scientific research on Brazil in a more knowledgable language, BRaS Blog opens its doors to a wide range of scholars and students. We want to listen to different voices, viewpoints. Also, diverse research methodologies and theoretical frameworks. From an excerpt of an ongoing project to comments on relevant current issues, we want to gather different ideas on the table and talk about them. 

And that was how BRaS Blog Interviews was born, and I am delighted to be the Editor. Our purpose is to develop our network by better understanding researches and researchers dedicated to shedding light on Brazil as a case study or from a comparative perspective. To do so, we will interview remarkable scholars from different universities, nationalities, and research focus. And guess what? The interviewers will also have diverse backgrounds.

So far, you might be thinking, “ok, Anna, and who are you in this enterprise? Why were you selected to be the BRaS Blog Interviews Editor?” My first reaction would be, “ok, mate, tough questions!”

My academic path reflects two of my purposes and the grounds from which I conduct my personal and professional life – valuing diversity and exchanging knowledge and experiences. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and a master’s degree in Political Science, both from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). The feeling of “I need to know more about what is out there” led me to get a Specialist degree in Communication Planning and Image Crisis Management from the Pontificial Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). Currently, I am a Political Science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Würzburg (Germany) and a research fellow at the DFG Research Group 2757

I believe and defend collaborative work in academia, widen access to science, and that scholars should value and engage in dialogue with civil society. For me, good research includes communicating its results in a knowledgeable form for a broader audience. Hopefully, now you get why I am the perfect fit for BRaS Blog Interviews. 

As I said in the beginning, networks are a tool to connect people with similar values and/or expertise – and now I add – and to enable collaborative work and support to accomplish meaningful objectives. Academic work does not need to be necessarily a single soldier contest, and BRaS Blog Interviews is here to help with that. 

I hope BRaS Blog Interviews may be a useful device to bring people closer. Actually, to be the always open door in consolidating and expanding the BRaS network towards an even more plural and diverse group of researchers committed to understanding Brazil and its complexities. 

What to expect from this mix? Be ready to be surprised! Last but not least, as Matheus Hebling, our Editor in Chief, would say, grab a cup of coffee and join us. Or, in good Portuguese, quer um cafezinho?  

January 14th, 2021|Categories: Vol. 2 Num. 1|Tags: |

BRaS Blog ISSN 2701-4924



The Brazilian Research and Studies Blog (BRaS Blog) provides a space for researchers and students with a focus on Brazil to publish their research and opinions to a broader audience. We have an interdisciplinary outlook integrating human, social, and applied social sciences. We welcome opinion articles, essays, research excerpts, or summaries with a research focus on Brazil. The BRaS Blog’s purpose is to open room for debate about academic thematic with a more accessible approach. The aim is to present scientific discussions about Brazil favoring the democratization of knowledge access. Our blog publishes articles, preferably in English, but it also accepts articles in Portuguese. BRaS Academic Committee will evaluate the submissions, which will be freely available on the BRaS website.


Brazilian Research and Studies Center

Campus Hubland Nord
Oswald-Külpe-Weg 84
97074 Würzburg
Raum 03.103

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