Mary Arends-Kuenning, Interim Director Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies

Mary Arends-Kuenning

Mary Arends-Kuenning is the Interim Director of the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. She is an economic demographer who focuses on household decisions. Her research areas include children’s schooling and child labor, household consumption, and international migration. She began doing research on Brazil in 1992 as part of her dissertation at the University of Michigan. Her work on Brazil has been published in World Development, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, and as book chapters. This work is often cited in World Bank and United Nations publications and by researchers.

John Tofik Karam, Acting Director Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies

John Karam

John Tofik Karam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Associate Director of the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois. His first book on Arab cultural politics in neoliberal Brazil (2007) won awards from the Arab American National Museum and the Brazilian Studies Association. It was translated into both Arabic and Portuguese by Centre for Arab Unity Studies and the Editora Martins Fontes, respectively. His current book project is titled, “Manifold Destiny: Arabs at an Exceptional Crossroads of the Americas.” As part of that project, his 2013 article, “The Lebanese Diaspora at the Tri-Border and the Redrawing of South American Geopolitics, 1950-1992,” was awarded the best article prize by the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association. His work appears in both the Journal of Latin American Studies and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Elis Gomes Artz, Lemann Senior Program Coordinator

Elis Artz

Elis Artz is the Lemann Senior Program Coordinator and manages Center programs and projects under the direction of the Faculty Program Director. She is from the northeast of Brazil where she received her professional degree in Psychology.

Gloria Ribble, Office Manager

Gloria Ribble

Dan Bacon, Technology and Communication Coordinator

Dan Bacon

Jerry Dávila, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazilian History

Jerry Dávilla

Jerry Dávila is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazilian History at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Hotel Trópico: Brazil and the Challenge of African Decolonization (Duke, 2010), recipient of the 2012 LASA Brazil Section Book Award, and of Diploma of Whiteness: Race and Social Policy in Brazil, 1917-1945 (Duke, 2003). Both books examine the role of racial thought in shaping Brazilian public policy. In 2000, Dávila taught as a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of São Paulo, and in 2005, he held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. Dávila is also the author of Dictatorship in South America (Wiley, 2013) and co-author of A History of World Societies, 10 ed. (Bedford/St. Martins, 2014).

Luís Cláudio Pereira Symanski, Lemann Distinguished Visiting Professor, 2019-2020

Luís Cláudio Pereira Symanski

  • Room 223, ISB

Luís Cláudio Pereira Symanski is an Associate Professor of history, anthropology, and archaeology in the Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG). He also serves as the Vice-Director of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology within that division of UFMG. Luís’ teaching and advising are addressed to undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students. He is one of the most influential and active scholars in collaborative, interdisciplinary research of African diaspora populations in Brazil. Luís combines the insights of historical and archaeological analysis to uncover the lives and legacies of African heritage people in a nation that received the largest influx of captive laborers during the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Luís’ scholarship focuses on the untold histories of Afro-Brazilians living with the challenges of enslavement on sugar and coffee plantations. His current field research projects also focus on “maroon” settlements of populations who rebelled against enslavement in Brazil. He has been tireless in working to convey the lessons of historical and archaeological research to broad audiences. For example, Luís has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the peer-reviewed Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage (Routledge), and Editor and Board member of Vestígios: Revista Latino-Americana de Arqueologia Histórica (the Latin American Journal of Historical Archaeology).

He plans to offer courses at UIUC designed with broad, interdisciplinary perspectives: the “History, Anthropology, and Archaeology of African Diasporas in Brazil” and the “History and Theory of Archaeology in Brazil.” Luís similarly plans a fascinating public lecture at UIUC, entitled “Historical Archaeology and the Material Expressions of Religiosity in African Diasporas in Brazil in the 18th and 19th Centuries.” Plans also include attendance at the ASWAD conference and the meetings of other professional organizations during his stay in the U.S. As the 2019-2020 Lemann Distinguished Visiting Professor in Brazilian Studies, his residency on campus will provide a unique opportunity for students, faculty, and the broader Urbana-Champaign community to engage in questions on a number of topics. This includes runaway maroon communities and the wider continuum of resistance to slavery in a comparative context, as well as the methods and models through which we commemorate African diasporic cultures. These courses and lecture will be of great interest to faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students on our campus from Brazilian studies, Latin American studies, African American studies, Center for African Studies, Global studies, Religion, Anthropology, Landscape Architecture, History, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Sociology, to name just a few.