After 126 years of history, the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL, in Portuguese) has its first Indigenous member. Environmentalist and philosopher Ailton Krenak was elected on Thursday (05) to take seat number 5, vacant since the death of historian José Murilo de Carvalho in August this year.
Visibly touched, Krenak talked to Brasil de Fato after the confirmation of the election. He said there is “a kind of transition” in literature and other arts. The newly elected ABL member said they are “full of land”.
“People want to read literature that provides them with some kind of science. (It’s about) Literature and consciousness. I am very honored to have people such as Paulo Coelho (as a colleague in ABL), who was the first (ABL member) to vote for me, before anyone else,” he said.
“José Murilo himself, who occupied seat number five until it became the subject of the recent election, wrote about our history, the political history of Brazil, in such an innovative way that I think the Academy got used to innovation.”
Krenak competed with 14 other candidates and was one of the favorites, along with historian Mary Del Priore and fellow Indigenous leader and writer Daniel Munduruku. The winner received 23 votes against 12 for Del Priori and four for Munduruku.
The new ABL member, who turned 70 on September 29, gained recognition in recent years when he became, for instance, the first Indigenous person to receive the Honoris Causa PhD from the University of Brasília (UnB, in Portuguese). However, he has played a relevant role in the country’s political and intellectual scene for decades, representing the Union of Indigenous Nations in the Constituent Assembly that formulated Brazil’s 1988 Constitution.
Edited by: Nadini Lopes and Thalita Pires