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?