Northwestern Events Calendar


Defiant Geographies: Race & Urban Space in 1920s Rio de Janeiro — A Conversation with Lorraine Leu (Illuminations Series)

When: Thursday, May 5, 2022
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Co-Sponsor: Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Category: Global & Civic Engagement, Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Multicultural & Diversity


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Please join us for this conversation with Lorraine Leu, Professor of Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, about her new book Defiant Geographies: Race and Urban Space in 1920s Rio de Janeiro, published in the University of Pittsburgh Press series Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas.

About the book

In Defiant Geographies, Lorraine Leu examines the destruction of a poor community in the center of Rio de Janeiro to make way for Brazil’s first international mega-event. As the country celebrated the centenary of its independence, its postabolition whitening ideology took on material form in the urban development project that staged Latin America’s first World’s Fair. The book explores official efforts to reorganize space that equated modernization with racial progress. It also considers the ways in which black and blackened subjects mobilized their own spatial logics to introduce alternative ways of occupying the city. Leu unpacks how the spaces of the urban poor are racialized, and the impact of this process for those who do not fit the ideal models of urbanity that come to define the national project. Defiant Geographies puts the mutual production of race and space at the heart of scholarship on Brazil’s urban development and understands urban reform as a monumental act of forgetting the country’s racial past.

About the author

Lorraine Leu is Professor of Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a joint appointment with the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS), and is an affiliate of the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies. She is the author of Brazilian Popular Music: Caetano Veloso and the Regeneration of Tradition (2008), which was selected by The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory as one of the most important books in the field. She is co-editor of Latin American Cultural Studies: A Reader (2017) and, since 2000, has been an editor of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies.

This event is part of Illuminations: Conversations on Latin American Literary & Cultural Studies Today, a new series in which Jorge Coronado, Professor of modern Latin American and Andean literatures and cultures at Northwestern University and editor of the Illuminations series, talks (on Zoom) with Illuminations authors about their new books.

The series is co-hosted by the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at Northwestern in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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