Dr Courtney J. Campbell

Dr Courtney J. Campbell

Department of History
Lecturer in Latin American History

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 304

I am an historian of Latin America. My research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Brazilian cultural and social history. My current research interests are regional identity, race and representation, gender and representation, transnational consumer culture, popular culture movements, movement and migration, language-based movements, and spatial understandings of regional culture.


  • PhD in History, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, USA)
  • MA in History, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, USA)
  • ME in Theory and History of Education, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (Recife, Brazil)
  • BA in Spanish, University of Michigan-Flint (Flint, USA)
  • BA in French, University of Michigan-Flint (Flint, USA)


I was born and raised in southeast Michigan (USA). After completing graduate studies, I joined the Peace Corps as an agroforestry extension volunteer, which took me to Paraguay (2001-2003). In Paraguay, I lived and worked in a dairy community in the Chaco.  From Paraguay, I moved to Recife in Brazil, where I taught English and began postgraduate training (2003-2008). I returned to the United States to earn my doctorate in Nashville, Tennessee. I carried out thesis research in nine Brazilian states with funding from the Institute for International Education in 2012. Before joining the University of Birmingham, I held two postdoctoral positions: the first a Past and Present Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2015) housed at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and the second an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2016, through Vanderbilt’s Mellon Partners Programme) at Tougaloo College, a historically black college (HBCU) in Jackson, Mississippi. I joined the University of Birmingham in Autumn 2016.


  • History in Public
  • History in Theory and Practice
  • Practicing History A – ‘From Mulato Football to Chica Chica Boom Chic: Race, Gender, and Representing the Brazilian Nation (1930-1954)’
  • Practicing History B: Bandidos! Socializing the Latin American Bandit
  • Latin American History through Film (3rd year)

  • Rebellious Women and the Latin American Nation (2nd year)


I am currently finishing my book Region Out of Place: The Brazilian Northeast and the World (1924-1968), 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 appeared in Past & Present's February 2017 issue.

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 Keatingunder 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, with the support of an undergraduate research fellow, I have begun research for my next book project, tentatively titled Rebellious Women and the Brazilian Nation. The book approaches gender and historical memory in twentieth-century Brazil.

Other activities

I am also the Convenor of our Global History MA, Equality and Diversity Lead for the School of History and Culture, and Brazil Lead for the College of Arts and Law.

With funding from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, I have directed two projects dedicated to digitising endangered historical documents in the state of Paraíba:

  • Digitising endangered seventeenth to nineteenth century secular and ecclesiastical sources in São João do Carirí e João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil
  • Creating a digital archive of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century criminal and notarial records in Mamanguape, São João do Cariri, and João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil


Recent publications


Campbell, C 2019, 'The Northeast plays Football too: World Cup and regional identity in the Brazilian Northeast', Estudos Históricos, vol. 32, no. 68. https://doi.org/10.1590/s2178-149420190003000009

Campbell, C 2017, 'Four fishermen, Orson Welles, and the making of the Brazilian northeast', Past & Present, vol. 234, no. 1, pp. 173-212. https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtw052

Campbell, C 2016, 'Space, Place, and Scale: Human Geography and Spatial History in Past and Present', Past & Present. https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtw006

Campbell, C 2015, 'Making Abolition Brazilian: British Law and Brazilian Abolitionists in Nineteenth-Century Minas Gerais and Pernambuco', Slavery and Abolition, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 521-543. https://doi.org/10.1080/0144039X.2015.1067976

Campbell, C 2014, 'From Mimicry to Authenticity: The Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasilieiros on the Possibility of Brazilian Culture (1954–1960)', Luso-Brazilian Review, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 157-181. https://doi.org/10.1353/lbr.2014.0011

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Campbell, C, Landers, J, Gómez, P & Polo Acuña, J 2015, Researching the history of slavery in Colombia and Brazil through ecclesiastical and notarial archives. in M Kominko (ed.), From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, pp. 259-292. https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0052


Campbell, C, Giovine, A & Keating, J 2019, Introduction: Confronting emptiness in history. in CJ Campbell, A Giovine & J Keating (eds), Empty Spaces: Perspectives on Emptiness in Modern History. School of Advanced Studies, University of London Press, London.

Campbell, C 2019, Resistam! Ou como o Nordeste virou cangaceiro. in F Pereira & S Sobreira de Matos (eds), Desafios e particularidades da produção antropológica no Norte e Nordeste do Brasil. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife.

Campbell, C 2010, 'Tinha apenas em vista chamar a atenção': Joaquim Nabuco, os abolicionistas britânicos e o caso de Morro Velho. in S Albuquerque (ed.), Conferências sobre Joaquim Nabuco: Joaquim Nabuco em Wisconsin. Bem-Te-Vi, Rio de Janeiro, pp. 381.

View all publications in research portal


Brazil, Brazilian history, Brazilian culture, the Brazilian Northeast, subnational regionalism, the United States in Brazil, Latin America, Latin American History, beauty and history, beauty in Brazil, beauty and race, race and racism in Brazil, history of slavery, history of abolition, digitization of historical documents, issues relevant to US citizens (in the UK).