Brazil Studies Program: "The Legacy of Slavery: Tales of Gender and Racial Violence in Machado de Assis"


Thursday, February 4, 2016, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South S-050, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

Speaker: Sidney Chalhoub, Professor of History, Harvard University


Machado de Assis, widely regarded as the most important Brazilian novelist of all time, dealt with the themes of slavery and racism throughout his literary career. He wrote stories about the seigneurial custom of resorting to sexual violence against free and enslaved black women, and he depicted these women’s dignity in dealing with the problem. In the final years of his life, Machado de Assis turned to the legacy of slavery and its consequences for Brazilian history and society.

Sidney Chalhoub taught history at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, for thirty years. He moved to Harvard in July 2015. He has published three books on the social history of Rio de Janeiro: Trabalho, lar e botequim (1986), on working-class culture in the early twentieth century; Visões da liberdade (1990), on the last decades of slavery in the city; and Cidade febril (1996), on tenements and epidemics in the second half of the nineteenth century. He has also published Machado de Assis, historiador (2003), about the literature and political ideas of the most important nineteenth-century Brazilian novelist, and co-edited five other books on the social history of Brazil. His most recent monograph is  A força da escravidão: ilegalidade e costume no Brasil oitocentista (2012), on illegal enslavement and the precariousness of freedom in nineteenth-century Brazil. Chalhoub was a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (1995, 1999, 2004), a Tinker Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago (2007), and a research fellow at Stanford University (2010-11) and in the International Research Center at Humbold Universität, Berlin (2013). He was a founder of and remains associated with the Centro de Pesquisa em História Social da Cultura (CECULT), University of Campinas.