Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Writing acknowledgments is hard. At least, Brazilian acknowledgments. I tried to sound grateful, profound, meaningful. I tried to make sure that it wasn't just a list of names, but that people who read it know that I could see, that I could point out what was done for me. The thing is, PhDs are hard. They are lonely. I spent weeks in an empty apartment, just writing, without seeing anyone. But you can't really do them without help; that apartment, for instance, is my aunt's and she just loaned it to me. There are people who I've never met in person who were there for me, either as friends, or people who helped me get data I wouldn't otherwise have. There are people who have died, but I wouldn't be here without them. There are people who have forgotten all about me, but I will always remember what they've done.
In looking for my epigraphs, and I wanted a Brazilian, a British, and a Swedish one, I found Selma Lagerlöf's speech, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature:
It is not too much to ask that you should help, Father, for it was all your fault right from the beginning. Do you remember how you used to play the piano and sing Bellman’s songs to us children and how, at least twice every winter, you would let us read Tegnér and Runeberg and Andersen? It was then that I first fell into debt. Father, how shall I ever repay them for teaching me to love fairy tales and sagas of heroes, the land we live in and all of our human life, in all its wretchedness and glory? (…) Remember all who have helped me, Father! I shall say. Think of my faithful friend, Esselde, who tried to open doors for me when no one dared to believe in me. Think of others who have cared for and protected my work! Think of my good friend and travelling companion, who not only took me south and showed me all the glories of art but made life itself happier and lighter for me. All the love that has come to me, the honours, the distinctions! Do you not understand now that I had to come to you to ask how such debts can be paid?
Acknowledgements, in Brazil, are loosely translated into "people to thank". Acknowledgments should be more than just recognising the role someone played in bringing a thesis about. Here are the people I need to say thanks to.
My parents, Marco Antônio and Eliza, for the moral, financial, and intellectual support. When I chose the road less taken, that was longer, and more expensive, all I saw was love and pride. My parents always taught me to search for more, to want more, without ever losing my moral compass. “A book is never an expense, it’s an investment. They gave me a home and a safe harbour. And my best friend since my birth, my sister Letícia, who has never left me alone. And during the past four and a half years, always encouraged me and was always there, reminding me to drink water and with some entertainment ready for my breaks. I’m no one without them.
I’m privileged to have a large family. They all deserve my appreciation and I’ll represent them with the ones who were able to be there for me throughout. Jamerson, Nívea, Marilene, Paulinho (in memoriam), Betânia, Mauro, Alisson, Gleice, Tininha, Dênio, Júlia, Carlinho, Fernando. You were always there for me, with the most sincere love, the most heartfelt incentive, the most caring of concerns. Some welcomed me into your homes, others listened to me non-stop, gave advice, hugs, set examples. I hope to be able to give back in kind. To the ones who have left us, thank you for existing within me and giving me strength.
My adoptive family, what is I, without you? It’s hard to put into words what you have done for me and how much I love all of you. Lígia and Cleber, you were there for me at my worst and I wouldn’t be here without you. Tatiana, Teodoro, and Heitor, thank you for the loving home you’ve made for me and for making me a part of your family. Clarisse and Helga, almost my co-supervisors, friends for good times and bad, my travel and writing partners. Johanna and Débora, sisters forged in the fire of the PhD, never without a necessary “but have you read this?” and who have given me wonderful nephews and the most heartwarming examples of academic motherhood. Juliana, without you, there wouldn’t have been fieldwork, there wouldn’t have been conference presentations, but mostly, there wouldn’t have been a lot of wonderful laughs, conversations, and advice. Maria Alice, you threw yourself in the fire when I needed. Mari, my twinsies, and Rafa, about to give me one more nephew to love. Mariela, always there since the beginning, always someone to look up to. Christiane, for the advices, the friendship, the help, the laughter. Caroline, a friendship that if I believed in destiny, I’d say that it was made by it. Claire, a partner in crime, always ready with the pep talks, ideas, and crazy-long conversations across the Atlantic.
This thesis would have never existed if it weren’t for three incredible women who helped me, supported me, criticised me, and inspired me in the very beginning: Rainbow Murray, Iris Gomes, and Letícia Godinho. Elin Bjarnegård, thank you for all the encouragement and all your help. Every day, I work to be a little bit more like all of you. I’m so appreciative of the entire feminist institutionalism community, especially the wonderful people who took time out to help me, talk with me, motivate me: Sarah Childs, Jennifer Piscopo, Georgina Waylen, Pär Zetterberg, Josefina Erikson.
I’d like to thank the entire academic community of Twitter for being such an incredible support network. Whenever I needed it, there was a friendly notification. Specifically, Melanie Wong, Stephanie Melchor, Andy Day, and Antoine Badoui, just amazing people.
Thank you to all the people who were willing to talk with me, who facilitated my access to others and to data and, essentially, enabled this thesis to become the broad exercise that it was. I wish I could name each one of them, but their privacy comes first. With that said, I represent them with Fabrício Rocha (Dados Abertos), Michael Marcus (British Parliament), and Evan Odell.
Thank you to UFMG and DCP, for being a second home for so long. Thank you to Alessandro, for always working things out for me. Daniela and Ricardo, for the suggestions and critiques in previous panels. My first class with Bruno Reis was during undergrad, Politics 4, and from there an interest in political institutions was born. Thank you, Bruno, for the encouragement and friendship since then.
Thank you to CAPES for the financing and Presidents Lula and Dilma for strengthening and broadening the system of Brazilian universities. It was not in vain.
Alexandra Elbakyan, developer of Sci-Hub, which allowed the dissemination of scientific knowledge, especially for Global South researchers.
Writing this way seems hollow and vague. There are no words that adequately reflect my sentiment of love, humility, and gratitude. A PhD doesn’t only teach theories and techniques, but also that it’s impossible to do everything by yourself. That it is impossible to know it all, to access it all. That knowledge is made through connections, contact, “please”, and “thank you”. That there are more good people in the world than bad. It was a long and arduous process that has given me so much more than this thesis. And for that I am truly grateful.