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Rio Olympics present social, economic challenges for Brazil, researchers say

Monday, August 01, 2016

LAWRENCE — National news reports haven't had a shortage of challenges to focus on in the final hours before the Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro. The host city has tried to quell concerns about issues from health concerns about Zika virus and water quality to sex trafficking rings in Brazil.

University of Kansas researchers are available to discuss social and economic issues surrounding the Rio Olympic Games.

Christopher Anderson is the Anderson W. Chandler Professor of Business at the KU School of Business. He speaks Portuguese and has 27 years of experience as a student, financial professional and scholar in Brazil. He formerly lived in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked as a financial analyst and has since published research on Brazil's economy and financial markets. He is a core faculty member of KU's Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, has led business students on short-term study abroad courses to Brazil, and he supports the Portuguese for the Professions scholarship fund at KU. He is currently interested in Brazil's real estate markets and the effect of the Olympics on urban development in Rio de Janeiro.

"As a Brazilianist and former resident of Rio, I am excited about the 2016 Olympiad as an opportunity for Brazil to showcase its people and culture to the world. But I have also been very concerned about the many challenges to be overcome to make the event a success," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, difficulties in Rio's preparations and Brazil's recent economic and political turmoil have cast a shadow over the games. I hope that participants, spectators and commentators appreciate the warmth and joy of the Brazilian people as they host the world at this difficult time."    

Hannah Britton is an associate professor of political science and women, gender and sexuality studies. She also directs the Center for the Study of Injustice at KU's Institute for Policy & Social Research in which she coordinates KU's Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative. ASHTI is a working group of faculty and students engaged in teaching and research about slavery and trafficking.

Britton said while governments typically seek to address trafficking before a major international event, such as major sweeps and other operations, they typically do little to address the underlying problem once the international attention leaves the region. Britton said she and other researchers on anti-slavery and human trafficking are hopeful the Rio Olympics can be a springboard to long-term solutions on preventing and addressing human trafficking in Brazil.

"This has to be part of a much wider structural transformation that addresses inequality, poverty, homelessness and discrimination," Britton said. "This is a moment that can be used for structural change."

To arrange an interview with Anderson or Britton, contact George Diepenbrock at gdiepenbrock@ku.edu or 785-864-8853.