Media@McGill and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) were pleased to welcome Brazil’s Minister of Culture and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Gilberto Gil, for a free public lecture Friday, 15 February, at 6 p.m. at the Hotel Omni Mt-Royal. Digital Culture: Re-inventing America’s New World Dream explored innovative policies and practices at the cutting edge of issues like copyright, digital culture and Internet rights.
In addition to being a high-profile politician, Gilberto Gil has been one of Brazil’s most famous singers and composers, inspiring many musicians around the world with nearly fifty albums and two Grammy Awards to his name. He began his career in the 1960s as a Bossa Nova musician and, as his lyrical leanings became more politically and socially charged, helped found the popular anti-establishment movement called Tropicalia – a form that is a mix of bossa nova, rock, bahia folk music and Portugese fado. In 1968, Gil was imprisoned for several months by Brazil’s military government and went into exile, returning to Brazil in 1972 where he resumed his career in music and activism. Brazilian President Lula da Silva appointed Gil to serve as the country’s new Minister of Culture. He took office in January 2003.
‘As Brazil’s Minister of culture, Gilberto Gil has been one of the leading international advocates for the rights of artists, cultural producers and ordinary citizens with respect to new media technologies,’ said Marc Raboy, Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communications and head of Media@McGill. Under the patronage of his Ministry, traditional and grassroots communities throughout Brazil have been turned into centres of digital cultural production. Gil recently hosted the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro (November 2007) where he called for the establishment of an international Internet Bill of Rights. ‘As a creator of music, he is widely known as a central player in the search for more flexible forms of distributing artistic works, Internet rights, free and open source software, and digital culture,’ adds Raboy.
Media@McGill also presented a second public event: Broadband: a conversation with Gilberto Gil which took place 16 February at the SAT (Society for Arts and Technology). Video of this event will be available next week. At this event, Gilberto Gil discussed his thoughts on some of the issues that arise when culture intersects with technology and politics. A group of local researchers and activists asked Gil specific questions about issues related to networked communities, technologies of inclusion, governing the Internet, cultural development and Web 2.0. Gil also took questions from the audience.