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John D. French, Professor

John D. French

I am a professor of History at Duke University with secondary appointments in African and African-American as well as International Comparative Studies in Durham North Carolina. With a B.A. from Amherst College, I received my doctorate at Yale in 1985 under Brazilian historian Emília Viotti da Costa. Since 1979, I have been studying class, race, and politics in Brazil, Latin America, and beyond with 48 refereed articles as well as numerous chapters, briefing books, and reviews

My October 2020 UNC Press monograph entitled Lula and his Politics of Cunning: From Metalworker to President of Brazil was awarded two prizes in 2021: the Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Prize from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association and the Warren Dean Memorial Prize of the Conference on Latin American History. The book has been the subject of four round-tables with contributions from eighteen senior scholars across several disciplines: Labor: Studies in Working Class History (September 2021); American Historical Review (December 2021); Latin American Politics & Society (February 2022); and International Review of Social History (2022). Reviewed widely, it has also been the subject of four podcasts and the Brazilian translations will be published in September 2020 by Editora Expressāo Popular as Lula e a Politica de Astùcia: De Metalúrgico ao Presidente do Brasil.

My earlier books include The Brazilian Workers ABC (1992/1995 in Brazil), Drowning in Laws: Labor Law and Brazilian Political Culture (2004; 2002 in Brazil), and a coedited volume The Gendered Worlds of Latin American Women Workers (1997) as well as forthcoming co-authored pieces on racial quotas in higher education admissions in Brazil.

I have over the years served as Director of the Duke's Latin American Center and the Carolina-Duke Consortium, Treasurer of our national interdisciplinary organization LASA, and co-editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review for a five-year term that ended in June 2017.  Over the past seven years, I have served as co-director of the Duke Brazil Initiative, the Global Brazil Humanities Lab of the Franklin Humanities Institute (2014-17), and as faculty co-director of Bass Connections Project (2015-19) on "The Cost of Opportunity: Social Mobility and Higher Education in Rio's Baixada Fluminense": https://sites.duke.edu/project_duke_baixada_project/ In the spring of 2020, I co-taught a course on "Black Lives Matter Brazil/USA" with Mellon visiting professor Dr. Silvio Almeida of Mackenzie Presbyterian University/FGV in Sao Paulo that led to an ongoing student project that produced an exhibit currently on display in the Classroom Building on Duke’s East campus a remarkable website: http://blacklivesmatterbra-usa.com/

My past doctoral advisees have completed dissertations on Bolivia, Brazil (3), Chile, Jamaica & Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Venezuela, early modern Spain, and southeastern pacific marine environmental history. My graduate teaching includes the "Modern Latin American History" colloquium, a two-semester sequence on "Afro-Brazilian History and Culture," and "The Latin American Wars of Independence." Over the years, I have directed numerous undergraduate theses in a variety of disciplines, eight of which won prizes. My undergraduate offerings include surveys of Brazilian Modern Latin American history while my newest offering focuses on the political and military history of the Latin American Wars of Independence. Over the years, I have directed numerous undergraduate theses in a variety of disciplines, eight of which won prizes. My undergraduate offerings include surveys of Brazilian Modern Latin American history while my newest offering focuses on the political and military history of the Latin American Wars of Independence.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  331 Classroom Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-3014
Email Address: send me a message

Teaching (Spring 2023):

  • HISTORY 264.01, LATIN AM WARS OF INDEPENDENCE Synopsis
    Perkins 060, TuTh 01:45 PM-03:00 PM
    (also cross-listed as AAAS 264.01, ICS 232.01, POLSCI 257.01)
Education:

Ph.D.Yale University1985
MAUniversity of Pittsburgh1978
BA (Magna cum laude)Amherst College1975
Specialties:

Gender
Labor and Working Class History
Legal History
Politics, Public Life and Governance
Race and Ethnicity
Latin America and the Caribbean
Global and Comparative
Research Interests:

Current projects: Since 1984, I have been co-coordinator of the Latin American Labor History Conference held in April of each year at Duke, and I served as Director of the Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies from 2001 to December 2005, and as Director of the Carolina and Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies 2002-05. I also serve as Associate Editor for Latin America and the Caribbean for the journal Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, under its new editor Leon Fink (University of Illinois-Chicago).

I am an historian of modern Latin America with a specialization in Brazil. Since 2005, I have been working on a book entitled "Lula's Politics of Cunning: From Trade Unionism to the Presidency in Brazil" which draws on a multi-year international research project on “Nurturing Hope, Deepening Democracy, and Combating Inequalities: An Assessment of Lula’s Presidency” that I co-organized (preliminary results have been published in 2012 along with a number of other articles on Lula, Latin American left turns, and working class history in Brazil. My last book entitled "Drowning in Laws: Labor Law and Brazilian Political Culture" was published in 2004.

Keywords:

African diaspora • Brazil • History • labor • Labor • Lula • Political science • PT • transnationalism • WTO

Curriculum Vitae
Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. French, JD, Common Men, Exceptional Politicians: What Do We Gain from an Embodied Social Biographical Approach to Leftist Leaders like Germany's August Bebel and Brazil's Luis Inácio Lula da Silva?, International Review of Social History (August, 2022), pp. 1-11, Cambridge University Press (CUP) [doi]  [abs]
  2. French, JD, Jeffrey L. Gould. Solidarity under Siege: The Salvadoran Labor Movement, 1970–1990., American Historical Review, vol. 126 no. 4 (February, 2022), pp. 1670-1671, Oxford University Press (OUP) [doi]
  3. French, JD, From Dictatorship to the Brazilian New Republic in Crisis: Understanding Lula's Political Leadership, Latin American Politics and Society, vol. 64 no. 1 (February, 2022), pp. 168-173 [doi]
  4. French, JD, Epilogue: Authoritarianism and the Specter of Democracy, International Review of Social History (January, 2022) [doi]
  5. French, JD, The future of progressive politics in a post-fordist world, Labor Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, vol. 18 no. 3 (September, 2021), pp. 69-77 [doi]

I have received major fellowships from: Fulbright-Hays (1981-1982, 2000), Inter-American Foundation (1981-83), Social Science Research Council (1981-83, 1991) the National Humanities Center (1995-96), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2005-2006), and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame (Spring 2007). In addition, my external grants include: American Philosophical Society (1998), American Council of Learned Societies (1991), National Endowment for the Humanities (1998, 1991), National Historical Publications and Records Commission (1998-2000) and North-South Center (1994)


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