I am currently working on my book manuscript, which examines how groups within a marginalized region of Brazil asserted their world belonging, relevance, and uniqueness through the creation of regional cultural symbols and institutions from the 1920s to the late 1960s. My manuscript focuses on the Northeast of Brazil, generally considered the nation’s poorest, most backward, and most rebellious region, and yet also considered deeply culturally authentic and untouched by the outside world. My manuscript explores how ideas about the region and its meaning circulated among social groups and across international lines. While considering the role of intellectuals and policy makers in the process of regional definition, I emphasize that to become part of the popular geographic imaginary, ideas on the Northeast had to circulate and find relevance among a greater portion of the population, particularly among working women and men of colour. For this reason, I analyse international interactions involving diverse social actors, such as intellectual conferences, dating during World War II, a campaign to bring a World Cup match to the Northeast, beauty pageants, literacy programs, and international aid projects. In doing so, I show that while ideas about the Northeast moved through one social class and into another and from one geographic scale to the next, notions of what the Northeast meant, what made up its culture, and who should be allowed to represent it were constantly revised and recirculated. A revised chapter from this manuscript is forthcoming in Past & Present.
In addition to my book manuscript, I am co-editing a volume titled Empty Spaces: Confronting Emptiness in National, Cultural, and Urban History with Allegra Giovine and Jennifer Keating, under contract with the Institute of Historical Research’s conference series. I am also drafting an article titled ‘The Winners, the Losers, the Invisible: Discussing Race and Gender in Brazilian World Cup and Miss Universe Media Coverage of the 1950s and 1960s’ and carrying out research for another article titled ‘UFOs, Aliens, and Astronauts in Popular Culture of the Brazilian Northeast’. I also occasionally collaborate with other contributors to the Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Archives (ESSS) to produce scholarship on the digitization of endangered archival sources.
Meanwhile, I have begun research for my next book project, approaching gender and race in the backlands of north-eastern Brazil in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through an examination of criminal and notarial records.