Institute of Sociology
of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Reminiscences on Brazil where I had never been

 Reminiscences on Brazil where I had never been

By Oleg Yanitsky, Moscow


Tomorrow, the Olympic Games will be launched in Brazil, and it prompts me to remember what had happened in Moscow some decades back.

In mid 1950s, by chance I, the graduate student of the Moscow architectural institute had been introduced to the outstanding Brazilian architect Oskar Niemeyer who visited the Soviet Union of Architects. It had been the times when the new capital of the country, Brazilia, had been under construction. It should be mentioned that quite a few Soviet people knew something about its country and its architecture. And Niemeyer and his colleagues were so kind supplying me and my friend (and further, co-author of the book) with photos of his works in Brazilia capital under construction as well as with literature on Brazilian architecture and the fine arts.

It was quite natural that just after the Nimeyer’s visit to Moscow I began to gather materials on Brazilian fine arts and on his creative work and to learn the Portuguese language. But I couldn’t abruptly left my creative activity continuing working as a book illustrator. Nevertheless, in the end of 1950s the book about Niemeyer’s works had been ready to be submitted to a publishing house. Stalin already was dead, but the atmosphere of fear and mistrust is receded very slowly. Some openly mock at us, others accused us in self-sufficiency. But again His Majesty a Chance had interfered: Niemeyer had got the International award for the peace, our book appeared on the shelves in 1963, and we at once had become famous.

But one more important event had happened. The VI World Festival of youth and students had been opened in Moscow on July 27, 1957. It had been a real shock: just after the years of totalitarianism 34 thousand peoples from 131 countries across the world! And I fulfilled two roles simultaneously: a bystander and an active participant of this mass event. The matter is that two young architects came from Brazil to the Festival, and I fulfilled the role of guide and as a translator. It had been the case of ‘included observation’ from two sides: from above having the chance to observe the Festival as a kind of a friendly crowd behavior, and from below as an observer and analyst of an individual’s behavior. In general, the 1950-70s had been much more friendly and safe years in human relations. As to me, I think that Festival had been the last argument in favor of my becoming as an environmental sociologist. More than 60 years had passed from the above events but a great impetus for ‘thinking globally and doing locally’ still remains.



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