Roberto Reis Book Award

The Roberto Reis BRASA Book Award recognizes the two best books in Brazilian Studies published in English that contribute significantly to promoting an understanding of Brazil. The award honors Roberto Reis, one of the founders of BRASA, who was committed to developing Brazilian Studies in the United States. The two best books will receive US$200 awards each. The honorable mention, if granted, shall receive a certificate.

Guidelines for Submission:
For a book to be considered for the award, its author must be a member of BRASA and up-to-date in dues.
The book must have been published in English between January 2014 and December 2015.
The author of the book must submit a cover sheet (download form) by e-mail to the BRASA Secretariat at, and submit a printed copy of the cover sheet and a copy of the book directly to each member of the committee.

Members of the 2014-2015 Roberto Reis Book Award Committee
John Burdick – Chair of the Committee, 209 Maxwell Hall, Department of Anthropology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244
Paulina Alberto, 2705 Haven Hall, Department of History University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Christopher Dunn, Spanish & Portuguese Department 304 Newcomb Hall Tulane University New Orleans, LA 70118

Deliberation, award, and announcement of awards
The Secretariat will send a simple e-mail to each author indicating that the submission has been received. The submission deadline will be December 1, 2015. (Note: Books published in December 2015 may be submitted by December 30, 2015.) The committee will make decisions on the awards, plus any honorable mentions. The Secretariat will send a letter to the winners and announce the winners through the BRASA website and digest by February 15, 2016. Announcement of the winners will also be made at the next BRASA XIII International Conference at Brown University, Providence, RI, March 31-April 2, 2016.

BRASA Announces the Winners of the 2015 Roberto Reis Book Prize

The selection committee, which consisted of Paulina Alberto, Christopher Dunn, and John Burdick, had a  difficult job selecting from a record number of excellent submissions. Congratulations to the winners.

Prize Winners:
Barbara Weinstein 
The Color of Modernity: São Paulo and the Making of Race and Nation in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.

This scintillating book traces the history of the idea that São Paulo constituted a singularly modern, economically dynamic, and predominantly white region that embodied Brazil at its best. Through extraordinarily fine-grained research into key episodes in twentieth-century paulista history, Weinstein shows how paulistas deployed this image at different times to uphold the state’s preeminent position in the nation, often at the expense of other regions. One of the book’s powerful insights is to conceive of nation and region, as well as whiteness and racial democracy, not as opposites or antagonists but as imperfectly complementary constructs. In so doing, Weinstein breaks new ground in explaining the reproduction and persistence of racial and socioeconomic inequalities—and their spatial dimensions—in a “racially democratic” Brazil over the long twentieth century. This is a book that will shape the scholarship on race, region, nation, and inequality in Latin America and beyond for decades to come.

Heather F. Roller
Amazonian Routes: Indigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014.

This is a game-changing book. Beautifully written, marvelously understated, Heather Roller’s book offers a persuasive new interpretation of the interactions between the Portuguese empire and the indigenous populations of the Amazon in the late colonial era. Breaking with longstanding conventional views of native Amazonians fleeing imperial power ever deeper into the forest, Heather Roller makes the compelling argument, based on heretofore untapped sources, that the native peoples of the Amazon used the imperial state almost as much as the imperial state used them. Roller’s book forces us to rethink much of what we thought we knew about state-indigenous relations, not only in Brazil, but in much of Latin America and the world – – and not only then, but today as well. A tour de force of scholarship and the historical imagination.

Honorable Mention:
Rebecca J. Atencio 
Memory’s Turn: Reckoning with Dictatorship in Brazil. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

With Memory’s Turn, Rebecca Atencio makes a timely and incisive intervention in ongoing debates surrounding the culture and politics of transitional justice in Brazil. After decades of “institutionalized forgetting” that effectively closed the books on the crimes of the military dictatorship, the Brazilian government established a National Truth Commission in 2011 to investigate human rights abuses perpetrated by agents of the regime. Atencio’s study shows how cultural products, including novels, testimonies, films, and television dramas, have impacted Brazil’s “turn to memory.” She offers an elegant and transferable theoretical model for understanding the relationship between “cycles of cultural memory” and institutional mechanisms designed to address past crimes and injustices.