Brodwyn Fischer is a professor of Brazilian and Latin American history at the University of Chicago. Her work explores the roots of urban social and racial inequality, focusing especially on the ways that law intersects with informality to create and constrict possibilities for just and free cities.
While at Radcliffe, Fischer will complete a book, “Intimate Inequalities,” which considers why and how deep social and racial inequity has reproduced itself in contexts of formal legal and political equality. Fischer argues that Brazil’s famously durable inequalities are rooted in the informal, relational dynamics that structured urban life in both slavery and freedom. Based on thousands of everyday stories drawn from a range of rare archives, “Intimate Inequalities” shows how informality—as both a vector of possibility and an afterlife of slavery—can help us to understand the contours of racialized governance and the limits of liberal modernities.
Fischer received her AB from Harvard-Radcliffe College and her PhD from Harvard University. She is the author or coauthor of numerous articles and three books, most recently The Boundaries of Freedom: Slavery, Abolition, and the Making of Modern Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 2022). She has received prizes from the Brazilian Studies Association, the Conference on Latin American History, the Social Science History Association, and the Urban History Association and enjoyed generous postgraduate support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and others.