RAQUEL MOREIRA, PHD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATION, WAS PRESENTED WITH THE ORGANIZATION FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN AND COMMUNICATION'S FEMINIST SCHOLAR OF THE YEAR AWARD Feb. 17 in Santa Clara, California.
The award is given annually to recognize the best article published in the organization's peer-reviewed journal, Women's Studies in Communication. Moreira's article explores the importance of embodied politics for marginalized women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a point of entry to instigate structural changes in sexist, racist and classist contexts.”
“I sort of called out the white feminist scholars from the global north to rethink how they universalize or generalize experiences of white women with oppression, as though the path to overcome structural oppression is the same for everyone,” she explained. “Through those Brazilian women I interviewed, I was able to gain those insights — a multifaceted viewpoint. Their lives are really hard. They challenge the status quo, and noticing that, and validating their experience, gave me a different way to look at feminism and a way to fight structural oppression.”
After a long revision process, the piece was finally published in April 2017. Unaware that her article would even be considered for the award, Moreira was surprised in January of 2018 when the organization contacted her with news that her piece had been selected for the prize.
Moreira’s grandmother and mother, both hemmed in by the walls of gender constraints in Brazil, gave her examples of strength under oppression as she began forging her own path.
“Grandma was pulled out of school in third grade to take care of her family — she struggled and wanted to be more than a wife and a mother. She wanted to be an independent person and paid a high price because the world was against her.”
Moreira’s mother, who is currently attending university, would advise, “The world will tell you what you can or can’t do, but you stand on your own.”
Growing up in Brazil, Moreira was also significantly impacted by her grandfather. “I’ve always been concerned with social justice. My grandpa was very influential in my life – he was in the Brazilian navy and was one of the few who opposed the military coup. It cost him his career, and he went to prison.” Watching him struggle for justice inspired Moreira to fight for causes she believes in.
Moreira’s undergraduate degree was in journalism, and she thought that was a tangible way to make changes. She interned and found there were too many restraints in journalism. Teachers and professors inspired and challenged her, and she realized that teaching provided a way to empower generations. Combining research and teaching, this headstrong woman is making a difference. “I wanted to change the world,” explained Moreira.
There were no classes for Moreira to take on the topic of gender in Rio, but that didn’t stop her. She went in her own direction. Rather than writing on the political coup like everyone else, her first serious research was investigating what life was like for women during that historical period.
“People didn’t think gender was important to study, but I had a wonderful professor who challenged me,” she explained. “I needed to
feel like what I was studying and would inevitably teach was validated.” That’s what motivated her to attend the University of Denver’s doctoral program in communication and culture.
Moreira’s journey was challenging and fast. One month after defending her master’s thesis, she left Brazil to work on her doctorate in another language, which she completed in May 2014. She’s been at Graceland for four years now and has an empathetic understanding for students with challenges of all kinds. On her office door is a poster that concludes, “You are an invaluable part of our campus community. I am committed to building an inclusive, supportive and equitable space where you know you belong, you are safe and you can thrive.”
“My colleagues inspire me every day. I still have a lot to learn — from them and from my students. Students tell me that I changed their life, but really, they’ve changed mine. I enjoy scholarship, but teaching is why I do this. It’s for the students.”
- Raquel Moreira, PhD
Assistant Professor of Communication