GU History Department Launches New Website on Brazil’s Rio Doce Disaster

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Georgetown University’s History Department is pleased to announce the official opening of our website, Brazil’s Rio Doce Disaster: The History and Consequences of a Man-made Environmental Disaster.

The site was built in conjunction with a partner site, The River Runs Red, created by Isabelle Carbonell, of the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The sites are linked, and launching simultaneously.

Brazil’s Rio Doce Disaster documents and provides resources for further research on the Bento Rodrigues Dam Disaster near Mariana, Brazil, on 5 November 2015. An iron-ore tailings dam collapsed, and 60 million cubic tons of toxic sludge poisoned the Rio Doce River. This was Brazil’s worst environmental disaster. Seventeen people died in the disaster. Tens of thousands lost their livelihoods or had access to clean water dramatically curtailed. The long-term environmental implications remain to be determined. The site explores the context, causes and consequences of the disaster, in an accessible format encouraging further research.

The River Runs Red is an interactive, multimedia site: users can take multiple possible journeys down the river, viewing extensive documentary footage, with minimal explanatory text. The paired sites are designed to be complementary: Brazil’s Rio Doce Disaster is pedagogical, providing an overview of the disaster and frequently updated links to further resources. The River Runs Red is reflective and interpretive, an innovative engagement with the ravaged landscape and its residents.

Key site creators and participants:

Brazil’s Rio Doce Disaster
Georgetown University:
Bryan McCann, Matthew Johnson and Douglas McRae, History Department
Camille Gaskin-Reyes, Center for Latin American Studies

Universidade Federal do Estado de São Paulo:
Janes Jorge, History
Décio Semensatto, Biology

University of Maryland, Baltimore County:
Sarah Miller, Photography

The River Runs Red
University of California, Santa Cruz:
Isabelle Carbonell, Film and Digital Media

University of Maryland, Baltimore County:
Andrés Camacho, Film

Sponsors: Georgetown Environment Initiative (GEI), Georgetown University History Department, Georgetown University Latin America Initiative

Contact: Bryan McCann,
Matthew Johnson: