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[610] Brazil Studies Program at HARVARD University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. By KENNETH MAXWELL,

Brazil Studies Program at

HARVARD University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Kenneth Maxwell

Director of Brazil Studies Program; DRCLAS Senior Fellow
Phone: 617-496-4780
E-mail: kmaxwell@fas.harvard.edu
Access RAS 2018-02-15

KENNETH MAXWELL is Director of the Brazil Studies Program at Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and a Visiting Professor in the Department of History.
From 1989 to 2004 he was Director of the Latin America Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and in 1995 became the first holder of the Nelson and David Rockefeller Chair in Inter-American Studies.
He served as Vice President and Director of Studies of the Council in 1996. Maxwell previously taught at Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and the University of Kansas.
He founded and was Director of the Camões Center for the Portuguese-speaking World at Columbia and was the Program Director of the Tinker Foundation, Inc.
Maxwell, who is currently a weekly columnist with the Folha de São Paulo, has written a number of highly praised books and articles.
His latest book, O Império Derrotado (Companhia das Letras, 2006), has received strong international interest and generated positive reviews. Other books include
        i.            Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal 1750-1808 (Routledge, 2004), widely known in Brazil in translation as A Devassa da Devassa (São Paulo, Paz e Terra, multiple additions),
      ii.            Naked Tropics: Essays on Empire and Other Rogues (Routledge, 2003),
    iii.            Mais Malandros: Ensaios Tropicais e Outros (São Paulo, Paz e Terra, 2002),
     iv.            Chocolate, Piratas e Outros Malandros: Ensaios Tropicais  (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1999),
       v.            The Making of Portuguese Democracy (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995), (Lisbon: Presença, 1999) & (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2006),
     vi.            Pombal: Paradox of the Enlightenment (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995), (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1996) & (Lisbon: Presença, 2000) and
   vii.            The New Spain: From Isolation to Influence (co-author) (CFR Press, 1994).

He was the Western Hemisphere book reviewer for Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 2004 and has been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

His latest articles inlcude:
Ø  History Lessons”, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America (Spring 2007);
Ø  “The Jesuit and the Jew”, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America (Winter 2007);
Ø  "Lula and Jorge: Brazil and the United States", Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America (Spring/Summer 2005);
Ø  "The Case of the Missing Letter in Foreign Affairs: Kissinger, Pinochet and Operation Condor," Harvard Working Papers on Latin America (December 2004).

Maxwell was the Herodotus Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Tinker Foundation, Inc., and the Consultative Council of the Luso-American Foundation.

He is also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Brazil Foundation and Human Rights Watch/Americas. Maxwell received his B.A. and M.A. from St. John's College, Cambridge University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

More information :


Published on David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
Home > Brazil Studies Program Overview
Date; 03dec2011
Director, Brazil Studies Program


  1. Though it is not always appreciated, Brazil and the United States have much in common. The precise ways in which the two nations are similar, or how they are different, make a fascinating intellectual puzzle for anyone with their feet on the ground in each country.
  2. Both the United States and Brazil are continental sized nations. Each has enormous diversity of landscapes and ecosystems. Both are multiracial and multi-ethnic societies. Each has a federal, or in the case of Brazil federative, system of government, where regional interests are powerfully entrenched and strongly influence politics, daily life and popular culture.
  3. Both have long been independent nations, but each developed out of a colonial experience where relationships between settlers and indigenous peoples were formative influences, where frontier traditions remain strong, and where an early integration into the Atlantic commercial system profoundly influenced their demographic make-up and linked them to Africa as well as Europe through the slave trade and the institution of slavery.
  4. Both by the early twentieth century had received many European and Asian migrants who added more layers of complexity to the already rich tapestry of cultures, food, music, arts and sports.
  5. And both Brazil and the United States, for better or worse, each aspired to leadership, and because of the scale of their economies, their ambitions, and their sense of destiny, came to dominate their own regions.
  6. Often they have been allies and sometimes competitors. THOMAS JEFFERSON wrote in 1820 that he would “…rejoice to see the fleets of Brazil and the United States riding together as brethren of the same family pursuing the same object.”
  7. Harvard's relationship with Brazil has surprisingly deep roots. The first diploma awarded by Harvard to a non-graduate was an honorary degree given to General GEORGE WASHINGTON in 1776, on the very day the Continental Army retook Harvard Yard from the British and the fellows and students of Harvard College returned to Cambridge from their temporary exile in Concord.
  8. By a curious historical coincidence, this diploma was among the documents in a published French translation, discussed by the conspirators in Minas Gerais in 1788 who were planning an armed uprising against Portuguese rule and intended not only to establish a republic inspired by the U.S. model but also to found a university.
  9. GABRIEL ROCHA, a junior at Harvard College, found the original text of WASHINGTON's diploma in the Harvard archives and this fascinating story is the subject of an article by him in the Spring 2007 issue of ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America, which is devoted entirely to Brazil.
  10. In 1786, another Brazilian student had sought out THOMAS JEFFERSON in France where JEFFERSON was the American envoy. He was seeking U.S. support for Brazilian independence. JEFFERSON secretly met with the student at Nîmes in the south of France and reported back to John Jay that “they consider the North American revolution as a precedent for their own and they look to the United States as most likely to give them honest support and for a variety of reasons have the strongest prejudices in our favor.”
  11. In 1876, the centennial year of the American Revolution, Brazil's emperor, PEDRO II, visited Harvard Yard and had dinner with his longtime correspondent and old friend HENRY LONGFELLOW at Craigie House.
  12. DOM PEDRO II was the first reigning monarch to visit Harvard, and this singular occasion was the subject of the inaugural lecture for the new Brazil Studies Program at Harvard in May 2006 by Professor LILIA MORITZ SCHWARCZ of the Universidade de São Paulo.
  13. The visit of the young WILLIAM JAMES to Brazil between 1865-1866 was also commemorated this year in a new book where his letters, diaries, and drawings are collected and published in a handsome bilingual edition edited by MARIA HELENA MACHADO and translated by JOHN MONTEIRO.
  14. Two Harvard alumni, who happened to become presidents of the United States, also made memorable visits to Brazil: THEODORE ROOSEVELT in a near disastrous voyage down the River of Doubt in the Amazon basin in 1913, and FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT to Natal [RN] in 1943 for a famous meeting with his new Brazilian World War II ally GETÚLIO VARGAS.
  15. Indeed Brazil and the United States do have good reasons to have the “strongest prejudices” in each other's favor, as Jefferson wrote. Harvard has much to learn from Brazil. The country is a global leader in areas from HIV/AIDS treatment to biofuels.
  16. These and many other yet-to-be explored areas offer opportunities for true two-way collaboration that will benefit both Harvard and Brazil; by developing synergies across and between disciplines, and promoting greater cooperation through interactions between students and faculty at Harvard and in Brazil, by developing best practices, and by nurturing promising individuals for the future.

  1. 2006-2007 has been a golden year for Brazil at Harvard University and for Harvard in Brazil. The launch of the Brazil Studies Program at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) in May 2006 and the founding of the Brazil Office in São Paulo just two months later have created new opportunities and resulted in a rich set of research, programmatic and student activities at Harvard and in Brazil.
  2. But why are - or should - Harvard and Brazil seek to further strengthen their ties? Why now? 
  3. For two principal reasons, and both are reflected in the steps taken by the new Brazil Program this year.
[1] The first is more traditional. It is to increase the knowledge and study of Brazil through enhanced language training, research and student visits, publishing about Brazil, and so on. This is important for Harvard because any serious program in Latin American Studies - and Harvard's DRCLAS is certainly such a program - must have a solid Brazilian component. Unfortunately, it is still true that too many Latin Americanists in the United States seem to think it is sufficient to focus on Spanish-speaking Latin America, and yet still claim to be “experts” on the entire region. It is unacceptable to ignore a large proportion of the Western Hemisphere's geographical space and population, and to remain ignorant about one of its most vibrant cultures. So Harvard is recognizing the basic fact of life that Brazil is needed for any program of Latin American Studies to be taken seriously and to be complete.
[2] Secondly, because the Program we have created at Harvard is more than “Brazilian Studies.” In point of fact, it is not even named “Brazilian Studies.” The Program is deliberately named “Brazil Studies.” Why? By this we mean to ensure that the Program is truly international in content and in quality, and that it is not parochial or captive to any narrowly-defined disciplinary interest or preoccupation. We seek to link the very best Harvard faculty and students with the very best Brazilian faculty and students across disciplines, be they in the sciences, medicine, public health, education, engineering, environment, the humanities and social sciences, music, and design.
  1. So we are not in any way limited to the traditional notion of what a country or regionally-defined program can or should do. That is why our Faculty Advisory Committee has more than 50 members and represents all the Schools and Divisions of Harvard. This explains the committee members' active and early engagement with the Program.
  2. Through this approach, I believe, we can most effectively make a difference in Brazil and at the University. I do not think any other program in the United States has the breadth in terms of disciplines involved or the infrastructure we benefit from at Harvard in terms of libraries, laboratories, museums and other unique resources. Teaching and research are at the core here; and faculty leadership and engagement is essential to the success of the whole enterprise.

  1. The expansion, initially, has principally focused on the research agenda, meetings and conferences, fellowships and study abroad opportunities, and in strengthening the faculty.
  2. We have not been able to do everything in the first year. The steps taken so far, however, have been very deliberate and the achievements in a short period of time impressive. The Program is up and running, the office in Brazil has been successfully established, and the initial footprint has been made very solidly at Harvard.
  3. The power of the Brazil Studies Program's strategy is reflected in the exponential increase in interest in Brazil at Harvard this year. There have been more than 20 special events and Conversas, all of which have attracted strong student and faculty interest. But it's only a beginning. We want more Brazilians at Harvard at all levels.
  4. The inaugural class of LEMANN Fellows, for example, came into residence this year. They represent the first cohort of a group that will grow substantially over the next five years.
  5. Much remains to be done, such as the insertion of more on Brazil into the curriculum. This takes time. As the overall Harvard curriculum is in the process of being reformed and made more international, Brazil will become a more important part of that effort.
  6. Already, for example, I am teaching two courses each semester with a strong Brazilian component. Professor NICOLAU SEVCENKO has developed several courses in Romance Languages and Literatures. The Portuguese language program under the leadership of Clémence Jouët-Pastré has tripled in terms of enrollments over the past three years, as will be seen later in this report. Teaching and students are as important as faculty research and seminars and colloquia. Opportunities for students to visit and study in Brazil are expanding dramatically as a result of the Program's initiatives.
  7. Above all, this is a team effort. We are very fortunate to have such an experienced, hard-working and enthusiastic staff in both Cambridge and São Paulo. None of the achievements this year would have been possible without the dedication of JASON DYETT, TOMÁS AMORIM and LORENA BARBERIA in Brazil, and ERIN GOODMAN in Cambridge. Professor JOHN COATSWORTH, DRCLAS's founding director, began the process of bringing Brazil to Harvard. Professor MERILEE GRINDLE assumed the directorship as the Brazil Studies Program and the office in São Paulo began their operations, and has been unstinting in her support. We are also grateful to Professor HOWARD STEVENSON of the Harvard Business School for all he does to support the Brazil Program, and to CLAUDIO HADDAD and the entire Brazil Advisory Group. And we are absolutely delighted that DAVID ROCKEFELLER was able to see for himself the office that bears his name in São Paulo and met with the staff and interns there.

  1. In all of this, the gifts to Harvard from its alumnus JORGE PAULO LEMANN (AB '61) were, and are, absolutely critical to the initiation of the Brazil Studies Program, its expansion, and its future sustainability. Harvard is very fortunate indeed to have a benefactor who wants to see the University's best schools and programs open to Brazilians, to see talented Brazilians learning at Harvard and returning to Brazil to improve public services - particularly in the areas of education, public health and public administration - and in making Brazil an important part of the educational experience at Harvard for faculty and students.

Director, Brazil Studies Program
Date; 03dec2011
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