Gilberto Freyre: An international intellectual and ancestor of Southern Theory

In this term’s final session of the Global Thinkers of the International Discussion Series, Dr Maria Lúcia Garcia Pallares-Burke, Research Associate of the Centre of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge and Professor Peter Burke, Professor Emeritus of Cultural History and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge will speak on Brazilian internationalist Giberto Freyre.

Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987) was a 20th century Brazilian academic and public figure known for his study of races and cultures in Brazil. Among Freyre’s numerous published works in Portuguese and English, the best-known is Casa-grande e senzala The Masters and the Slaves (1933) which is an account of the relationship between Brazil’s Portuguese colonizers and their African slaves. Freyre explored the possibility of interpreting Brazil by looking at its past and believed that by taking advantage of rich local traditions, Brazilians could maintain their identity in the face of an alienating modern world. He organised a Regionalist Conference in 1925 and encouraged the development of local novelists, poets, and artists. Freyre was the prime mover in the first Congress of Afro-Brazilian Studies in 1934 and in 1949 he represented Brazil in the United Nations General Assembly.