In 1999, Lucas was given a research grant at NYU and returned to campus to propose a study abroad class in Brazil to Steinhardt, which was approved. He began to take students to Rio de Janeiro in the summer to study human rights, and from 2001-2005, he ran the Peace Education Center at Columbia University. Lucas said that he was “learning on his feet how to teach classes on human rights, the UN, peace education, etc.” During this time, he was still taking students down to Rio each summer, learned Portuguese, and his own research slowly began to shift over to Brazil. Then, in 2006, Lucas started teaching at The New School in the International Affairs graduate program. He runs a 10-week class on human rights and media focused on media initiatives, youth media, media in Rio’s favelas, etc.
This upcoming spring 2013 semester, Lucas will teach Human Rights in Latin America at CLACS in a class entitled “International Studies in Human Rights” (LATC-GA 1048), which will look at military dictatorships throughout Latin America and how people are responding to them 20-30 years later. Lucas also teaches a class at Tisch School of the Arts called “The Poetics of Witnessing”, which looks at documentary strategies about films that are so open that they may or may not be about any given set of issues.
This Friday night, December 7th at CLACS, Lucas is presenting his new book, Viva Favela, which is about citizen journalism (favela residents uploading media) in and about the favelas of Rio. Lucas went into the favelas, worked with journalists there, and did an ethnography on the emergence of citizen journalism in the favelas and what the human rights implications of this participatory media are. And, because the book is about citizen journalism, the book is being released in a radical way-for free, on Lucas’ website. You can also order a hard copy via print on demand for a fee.
While Lucas’ research is focused on human rights and Brazil, he also has strong commitments to poetics and film. During his book launch event, he will also be screening his new film, Mural of Pain, which is a film about the right to memory and participatory media related to those murdered through armed violence in Rio 10 years ago. Last year, Lucas won a Guggenheim Fellowship Award as a filmmaker for his film, “Amazon Star”, which is a poetic travel log about the people in the Amazon and the small boats that they use as transportation on the river.
Right now, Lucas is working on fundraising for his new film, and taking a break from teaching next summer to do so. The film is called The Last Hour of Summer, and focuses on a huge set of photos of women in Ipanema that he found at a flea market. Lucas and his team found these women 50 years later. These photos are fascinating because they were taken right before everything changed: before the coup, before Bossa Nova, and before Ipanema were all on the world stage. The film will begin shooting in January 2013 and will be shot with super 8 cameras in black and white for a 1960s feel. He is also working on photo projects here in New York City, including one called, “The City in Winter”, which matches up scenes of New York City to lines in a book of poems by an obscure Belgian poet.
Although he certainly keeps himself busy, Lucas said that he loves teaching. That he is happier on a weekday when teaching than when he’s not.
Elizabeth Con is an MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU