Popular Participation and the Making of Brazil's 1988 Constitution


Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

This event is virtual. To view the recording, click here

Speaker: Dan McDonald, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University; Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative Research Fellow
Discussant: Victoria Langland, Associate Professor, University of Michigan
Moderator: Sidney Chalhoub, Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, affiliated with Romance Languages and Literatures

Brazilian citizens submitted 122 emendas populares or “popular amendments” to the constitutional assembly (1987-1988) tasked with crafting Brazil’s new democratic constitution. Daniel McDonald’s research points to this remarkable exercise in direct democracy as a key inflection point in Brazil’s transition from military dictatorship (1964-1985) to democracy. His examination of the popular amendments offers new understandings of the desires and aspirations of everyday Brazilians for their new democracy as well as the lingering legacies of two decades of authoritarian rule that continue to complicate its consolidation.

Daniel McDonald is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. His research centers on overlooked actors in the histories of cities, migration, and citizenship in nineteenth and twentieth-century Brazil with support from collaborative digital humanities projects. His current research project explores how migrant women reimagined democracy to meet the simultaneous rise of the megacity and of authoritarianism in twentieth-century São Paulo, Brazil. At present, he is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Modern Latin American and Caribbean History from Brown University in 2020.

Presented in collaboration with the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative