Pragmatic Public Activism (SSIR)

The timing of Christopher L. Gibson’s new book, Movement-Driven Development: The Politics of Health and Democracy in Brazil, is both unfortunate and fortuitous. It is unfortunate because Gibson’s rigorous analysis of the extraordinary achievements of Brazil’s public health system from the late 1980s comes just as analysts warn of fresh backsliding under a newly inaugurated right-wing president. At the very least, Jair Bolsonaro takes office following the first rise in infant mortality in decade

Why a nomadic family homestay in Mongolia is the ultimate camping experience

“That’s dinner,” my host tells me, gesturing to the lone sheep tethered outside that bleats gently as I return from an invigorating six-mile trek through the pastel green hills to see the ruins of the Erdene Khambiin Khiid monastery. Within two hours, the animal is slaughtered, shorn, blowtorched and butchered for the pot, leaving nothing to waste. It’s a brutal lesson in the realities of nomadic life, which balances freedom, fresh air and the vast Mongolian countryside with the challenges of s

Why more mid-lifers should take an adult reading week

It normally starts with a message or a notification or the recognisable buzz of an email arriving. Out of the corner of my eye, my phone lights up and I’m drawn away from the book in front of me, no matter how engaging or well-written, to indulge my curiosity. From there, it’s just a flick of the thumb to check Twitter, open up the latest hot takes, see if anyone else has liked my last Instagram post, and in the meantime, I’ve wasted precious minutes of reading time.

Climate Change Is Threatening Bologna’s Most Popular Pasta

It takes approximately ten minutes to make the custard-coloured dough from which all kinds of pasta derive. Which is approximately how long it took me to realise that tortellini really isn't a summer dish. As I sweat like a wrapped pasty in my plastic apron, my visions of a dish of fresh tortellini tossed in a light homemade pesto with a chilled glass of pinot grigio evaporate like steam off the Tarmac outside. Nevertheless, in the searing heat of the summer, sisters Monica and Daniela Venturi

Spending Christmas in Rio de Janeiro's Only Wine Bar

Brazil is unquestionably a beer country. It is the third biggest beer market on the planet, with Belgium-Brazilian company Anheuser-Busch InBev recognised as the world's biggest brewer. In recent years, the country has even started to embrace craft beer, diversifying beyond its "stupidly cold" cheap lagers that quench drinkers' thirst on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. "Everyone told me it was a big risk," says Parry, who went ahead and opened his WineHouse bar anyway. "But I was confident. I sp

This Tiny Berry Could Help Save the Amazon

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the açaí (ah-sigh-ee) berry is an exotic superfruit filled with age-defying antioxidants and disease-preventing pigments. Championed by celebrities and health food stores, it's available in sachets, smoothies, capsules, and pills for up to £30 a jar. It was also one of the ingredients in Starbucks' secret "Pink Drink," a craze that swept Instagram earlier this month. But as demand for the blueberry-like fruit continues to rise, for those in the Amazon

Is a women's spring blossoming in Brazil?

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Ana and Adriana* stood in the middle of a crowd of Brazilian activists protesting against recent proposals to further restrict access to abortion. The couple, both 42, moved to Rio de Janeiro more than a decade ago, leaving behind their home countries of Venezuela and Argentina. For them, Brazil - with its reputation for tolerance and an open culture - was the least chauvinistic society in Latin America, a traditionally conservative and Catholic continent. "If Venez

Parintins festival, Brazil: Snorting bulls, feathers and tribal theatre

With its multi-million pound production, colourful choreography and supple samba dancers, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has long been the most famous festival in Brazil. But its nearest rival is hardly known even among Brazilians, despite attracting more than 80,000 visitors every year. The Parintins Folklore Festival takes place in the remote town of Parintins, on a river island in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and it is the second biggest party in the country. While I arrived by plane -

Abortion in Brazil: a matter of life and death

Born five years apart, sisters Joyce and Jandyra Magdalena dos Santos Cruz lived together in a simple low-rise in Guaratiba, a poor neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, with Joyce’s four children, Jandyra’s two daughters, and their mother, Marie Ângela. Like many Brazilian families, their lives were inextricably meshed by economies of scale. It was the honey-coloured eyes they also shared that Joyce Magdalena recognised last August, when Jandyra was found inside a burnt-out car. She had been mutila

Brazil drought: It's a really dry January in the South American

As water reserves in Brazil’s most populous city, São Paulo, ran perilously low last year, there were jokes about needing a rain dance. This year is different. Last week, the country’s politicians called upon divine intervention to end a historic shortage. “God is Brazilian,” said Eduardo Braga, mines and energy minister. “He will make it rain.” Even those within São Paulo’s water company Sabesp are hoping for a miracle to prevent the reservoirs from drying up completely within five months, aft

Brazil's World Cup legacy: carnival of the animals on the Amazon

On Christmas Day, it will be six months exactly since the last roar of the crowds died down in the Arena da Amazonia, after Switzerland’s 3-0 defeat of Honduras in the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. The stadium in Manaus, in the heart of the steamy Amazon, drew criticism for its remote location, stupefying heat and lack of a local footballing culture. However, the city was a huge success with fans, including England supporters, according to a survey by the Tourism Ministry. Even from the plane,

Brazil's quilombos, founded by escaped slaves, offer a window to the past

The grave of the João Palacio, founder of the Santo Antônio dos Pretos quilombo in Codó, Maranhão state, Brazil. Gustavo Oliveira “When he got down from his horse, he was enchanted and he danced, he danced until he fell on the floor, he almost died from dancing,” she said, breaking into the song her grandfather sang when Lieutenant Vitorino came to shut down the celebration. “He never came back to Santo Antônio and he would always pass by another way, and whenever he met my grandfather, he low

Arms wide open

There is a trapdoor on Christ's right shoulder. To mount the steps and slowly, fearfully peer out is to see the world through the eyes of a bird, or even a god. Far below, white blocks of flats and offices cluster among folds of tropical green. Down there are the poor in the favelas, the rich in the luxury high-rise apartments, the homeless, the famous football stadiums and Guanabara bay with its scattered islands and boats. Beyond the sands of Copacabana and Ipanema, the limitless Atlantic oc

Clash of cultures in Amazon rainforest as controversial Transamazonica

Through a dense and remote pocket of the Amazon rainforest, once riven only by a network of rivers and tributaries, cleaves a part-dirt, part-asphalt road like a muddy laceration on the landscape. Built under the military dictatorship in the early 1970s, the Transamazonica highway was billed as Brazil's "road to progress", opening up the north of the country to the depths of the jungle. But in cutting through the land inhabited by the Tenharim people who had previously lived off the Marmelos tr