Brazil, the Bomb and the Poet: Cecília Meireles and the Gandhian Seminar (1953)

Karen Peña


Abstract. In 1953, a group of nine delegates (from non-communist countries) met in New Delhi to discuss Gandhi’s “outlooks and techniques” as a creative means to resolve Cold War nuclear tensions. This article mainly focuses on the politics and lyrical impressions as observed by the Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles in the Seminar proceedings and the Diário de Notícias. As the only Latin American delegate to attend the Seminar, she sheds new light on the ways emerging countries such as India and Brazil cope with racism, war, hunger, and violence. One pressing Gandhian issue Meireles and other delegates address is the ethical role of “machines” in modern society. Problems faced by postcolonial cultures, such as industrialization, poverty, and racial strife, seem to take a different (and more dangerous) perspective when thought of in terms of machines and progress. To elucidate this “machine-like” rhetoric, the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari have been applied throughout. Other participant comments such as those by Ralph Bunche and John Boyd Orr allow for additional insight into topics still relevant today.


Cecília Meireles, Gandhi, Nuclear War, Brazil, India

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