Northwestern Events Calendar


Neil Safier - "Translating the Plantationocene from the Prevolutionary Caribbean to Colonial Brazil"

When: Monday, May 15, 2023
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Central

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

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

Cost: FREE

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   (847) 491-3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Neil Safier, Bown University


"Translating the Plantationocene from the Prevolutionary Caribbean to Colonial Brazil"


How was the language of plantation society ported from the French and English-dominated Caribbean to colonial Brazil in the eighteenth century? What role did agro-industrial treatises play in the perpetuation of systems of enslaved labor as plantation societies shifted from sugar production to a wider array of foodstuffs, beverages, and profit-oriented utilitarian crops? Long understood to be powerful manuals for naturalists and plantation masters alike, these pragmatic instructional texts, focused around questions of climate, natural history, and commodity-driven agriculture, have only recently been understood to have circulated outside the narrow Caribbean world for which they were destined. One iconic protagonist of this translation process was the Franciscan friar José Mariano da Conceição Vellozo (1742-1811), who served as a linguistic conduit for moving natural knowledge from an array of texts produced in colonial cultures around the globe into print – and into Portuguese in particular. This talk examines Vellozo’s multi-volume and multi-faceted Fazendeiro do Brazil (1798-1806) with an eye toward connecting the eighteenth-century natural sciences, the ambitions of expanding plantation-based economies, and the politics of translation across the multilingual geographies of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.


Neil Safier is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Brown University and is affiliated with the Department of Hispanic Studies, the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative. From 2013 to 2021, he served as Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library. He received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and has held teaching and research appointments at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and most recently at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

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