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Institute Directors

The Institute is led by two co-directors, Prof. Erika Robb Larkins (San Diego State University) and Prof. Kathryn Sanchez (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Both have extensive experience teaching Brazil and conducting research on Brazilian culture and history from an interdisciplinary perspective. Their complementary expertise in Anthropology, History, Literary, Cultural and Performance Studies give the program interdisciplinary vibrancy. Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Larkins have lived for extensive periods of time in different regions of Brazil and their lived experiences will contribute additional depth and insights to the discussions.The co-directors will be present at all sessions throughout the Institute, alternating leading the Institute or co-teaching the material. The seminar will be further enriched by the contributions of four guest speakers.

Dr. Erika Robb Larkins

Dr. Erika Robb Larkins is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Behner Stiefel Center for Brazilian Studies at San Diego State University. She received her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and also holds a M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. Larkins’ research and teaching focuses on violence and inequality in urban settings. Her first book, The Spectacular Favela: Violence in Modern Brazil (U California Press 2015), explores the political economy of spectacular violence in one of Rio’s most famous favelas. A second book manuscript, Guarding Rio: Private Security in Brazil, examines how the private security industry produces urban inequality. She has also published on issues of race, gender, and politics in Brazil, with recent articles appearing in American Ethnologist, City and Society, and the Journal for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, and in public outlets including El Pais and Estadão (O Estado de São Paulo). Larkins’ is currently working on a new National Science Foundation funded research project on the intersection of extreme heat, environmental racism, and inequality in Rio de Janeiro. 
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Dr. Kathryn Sanchez

Dr. Kathryn Sanchez is a Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she teaches courses on literature, film, culture and history with a focus on the representation of race and ethnicity within the Portuguese Black Atlantic. Her first book is a study of the noble savage in nineteenth-century literature, published with the Portuguese national press, 2008, and her second book, Creating Carmen Miranda: Race, Camp and Transnational Stardom, was published in 2016 with Vanderbilt University Press. She is currently working on two book projects: Cosmopolitan Modernities: Brazil and the Transatlantic Performance of the Exotic and Filming the Amazon: Tales of Myth, Violence and Indigeneity Made in Hollywood. 
Institute Directors
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Guest Speakers


Dr. Benjamin Cowen

Professor of History at University of California, San Diego, Cowen is a historian of the Brazilian military dictatorship and cold war, specializing in cultural and gender history. He is the author of the award-winning book, Securing Sex: Morality and Repression in the Making of Cold War Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2016). His second monograph Moral Majorities Across the Americas (2021) examines the rise of the contemporary Right as a transnational process.

Dr. Jessica Graham

Graham is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the Black Studies Project. Her award-winning book, Shifting the Meaning of Democracy: Racial Inclusion as a Strategy in Brazil and the United States, (University of California Press, 2019), analyzes the impact of international forces—namely communism, fascism, black activism, World War II, and Brazilian-U.S. relations—on evolving racial meanings of political democracy in these nations from 1930 to 1945.

Dr. Keisha-Khan Perry

Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, whose research focuses on the critical study of race, gender, and politics in the Americas with a particular focus on black women’s activism, urban geography and questions of citizenship, feminist theories and intellectual history, among other topics. She is author of the award-winning monograph Black Women Against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil (Minnesota University Press, 2013). Her current research project, “The Historical Paradox of Citizenship: Black Land Ownership and Loss in Brazil, Jamaica and the United States” provides a global perspective on localized struggles for land throughout the Americas by illuminating the historical meanings of citizenship, material culture, and diaspora, in relation to Brazil in comparison with Jamaica and the United States. 

Dr. Jaime A. Alves

Assistant Professor in the departments of Anthropology and Black Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara and author of The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil (University of Minnesota Press, 2018). Professor Alves's current research focuses on the geographies of policing and black spatial insurgency in the urban margins of two Latin American cities.
Guest Speakers
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