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I am native of São Paulo, Brazil, where I worked for years as an art director doing graphic design and motion graphics. I had always been interested in history and geography, which led me to earn a bachelor’s degree in history at University of São Paulo. My engagement with both historical inquiry and visual communication brought me to pursue graduate education in digital humanities. I moved to the United States to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in Latin American History at Stanford University, where I used my skills as art director to explore new visual forms of historical narratives through digital media.
Since 2016, I have been an assistant professor of digital and Latin American history at NC State, where I am part of the Visual Narrative cluster.
Teaching and Research Interests
My research deals with the history of Latin America— especially Brazil—in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I focus on the intersection between environment and society, with a particular interest in the spatial and social implications of environmental policies.
My first book is an environmental history of the border between Brazil and Argentina in the twentieth century, and the creation of the iconic national parks of Iguaçu (in Brazil) and Iguazú (in Argentina), two of the oldest and most visited protected areas in Latin America. The book— Nationalizing Nature: Iguazu Falls and National Parks at the Brazil-Argentina Border—is scheduled for publication by Cambridge University Press in April 2021.
My next book investigates the environmental history of Brazil's modernist capital, Brasília, built in the late 1950s in the high savanna at the center of the country.
I am a member of the Visual Narratives cluster, a project launched by the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Cluster Program to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between engineering and humanities disciplines. My work with the cluster includes applying machine learning and computer vision to assess urban change during economic downturns.
At NC State, I teach courses on Latin American history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on the theory and methods of digital history. I also plan to introduce courses on spatial history and history of Brazil. I am interested in topics such as modern environmental history, policymaking and state formation, urban studies, transnational and borderlands history, animal studies, as well as historical GIS, network analysis, design, and visualization.
Urban Panorama is a project developed with colleagues at the Visual Narrative cluster. We are testing methods to assess urban change by introducing two novel elements in the craft of urban historians: 1) the use of images of streetscapes as primary sources; 2) the use of computer vision and machine learning in the analysis of these images. See more information here.
Environmental History of Brasília. In this project, I study the environmental and spatial processes that shaped Brasília, the capital of Brazil, between 1960 to the present. I am currently working to update a mapping visualization of land use in and around Brasília since the 1970s. I am also working on a chapter on the first scientific surveys of the site chosen to harbor Brasília, which were carried out in the late nineteenth century.
The Interior: Rethinking Brazilian History from the Inside. The Interior is an edited volume that aims to re-examin Brazilian history from the inside, a framework that we call interior history. Seeking to invert the conceptual and geographic boundaries often used to study the history of Brazil—and also of Latin America more broadly—the book will show how the people and spaces of the interior have been central to the development of national identities, politics, economy, and culture. The book will be submited to University of Texas Press in 2022.
Non-laboratory Scholarship/Research Support Program (NSRP) (co-PI), North Carolina State University - 2019
DELTA Blended Learning Grant (co-PI), North Carolina State University - 2017-2018
For a complete list, see my CV.
Nationalizing Nature: Iguazu Falls and National Parks at the Brazil-Argentina Border. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming April 2021.
Big Water: The making of the borderlands between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Co-edited with Jake Blanc. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2018.
Articles and chapters (peer-reviewed)
“Protected Areas in Brazil: History and Current Status.” In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2021.
“Conservation frontier: The creation of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazonia.” In Frontiers of Development in the Amazon: Riches, Risks, and Resistances. Edited by Antonio Ioris et al. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020, 51-79.
“Terras públicas e política de conservação da natureza: o caos fundiário na formação do Parque Nacional do Iguaçu.” In História Ambiental: Natureza, Sociedade, Fronteira, volume 3. Edited by José Augusto Drummond et al. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond, 2020, 227-252.
“Argentinizing the Border: Conservation and Colonization in the Iguazú National Park, 1890s-1950s.” Individual contribution to the Big Water volume, 2018, 105-128.
“Ordering the Borderland: Settlement and Removal in the Iguaçu National Park, Brazil, 1940s-1970s.” In The Nature State: Rethinking the History of Conservation. Edited by Hardenberg et al. New York: Routledge, 2017, 158-175.
“A Park for the Borderlands: The Creation of the Iguaçu National Park in Southern Brazil, 1880-1940.” HIb: Revista de Historia Iberoamericana 7, no. 2 (2014): 65-88.
For a complete list of publications, see my CV.
Dr. Freitas works with students in Latin American history, environmental history, urban history, and digital humanities.
- PhD in History from Stanford University, 2016
- MA in History from Stanford University, 2011
- BA in History from University of São Paulo, 2008
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