Terms of Exchange: Brazilian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences

Terms of Exchange
Brazilian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences

Chicago Book Salon
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
5 pm Paris Time (Central European Time)
10 am Chicago Time (Central Standard Time)

Please join us for a Chicago Book Salon with Ian Merkel (Freie Universität Berlin) who will present his new book Terms of Exchange: Brazilian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences published by the University of Chicago Press.

The discussant will be Dominique Vidal (Université Paris Cité).

Would the most recognizable ideas in the French social sciences have developed without the influence of Brazilian intellectuals? While any study of Brazilian social sciences acknowledges the influence of French scholars, Ian Merkel argues the reverse is also true: the “French” social sciences were profoundly marked by Brazilian intellectual thought, particularly through the University of São Paulo. Through the idea of the “cluster,” Merkel traces the intertwined networks of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Fernand Braudel, Roger Bastide, and Pierre Monbeig as they overlapped at USP and engaged with Brazilian scholars such as Mário de Andrade, Gilberto Freyre, and Caio Prado Jr.

Through this collective intellectual biography of Brazilian and French social sciences, Terms of Exchange reveals connections that shed new light on the Annales school, structuralism, and racial democracy, even as it prompts us to revisit established thinking on the process of knowledge formation through fieldwork and intellectual exchange. At a time when canons are being rewritten, this book reframes the history of modern social scientific thought.

Ian Merkel is an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin’s department of history, the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut. He received a dual Ph.D. between New York University and the University of São Paulo in 2018 and has taught at Cornell University, the University of Miami, the University of Turin, and the University of Leipzig. Broadly speaking, his work in intellectual history examines exchange across Latin America and European empires with an emphasis on the emergence of the social sciences. His current research is centered around the archaeologist Laurette Séjourné and the cultural avant-garde of Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s.

Dominique Vidal is Professor of Sociology at Université Paris Cité and member of the laboratory URMIS (Unité de Recherche Migrations et Société). He has conducted studies in Brazil (Recife, Rio de Janerio), South Africa (Johannesburg) and Mozambique (Maputo) and is also involved in a comparative sociological study around the question of the democratic phenomenon. He has written extensively on urban sociology and sociology of migration. His two most recent books are Le Brésil. Terre de possibles, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, collection ” Des Amériques “, 2016 ; Migrants du Mozambique dans le Johannesburg de l’après-apartheid. Travail, frontières, altérité, Paris, Karthala-IFAS, 2014.

This event is organized by The University of Chicago Center in Paris in partnership with the University of Chicago Press, the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago and the France Chicago Center.

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(6 rue Thomas Mann, Paris 13e)

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