Department of History

The Boundaries of Freedom: Slavery, Abolition, and the Making of Modern Brazil

The Boundaries of Freedom brings together, for the first time in English, key scholars writing on the social and cultural history of Brazilian slavery, emphasizing the centrality of slavery, abolition, and Black subjectivity in the forging of modern Brazil, the largest and most enduring slave society in the Americas. Nearly five million enslaved Africans were forced to Brazil's shores over four and a half centuries, making slavery integral to every aspect of its colonial and national history, stretching beyond temporal and geographical boundaries. This book introduces English-language readers to a paradigm-shifting renaissance in Brazilian scholarship that has taken place in the past several decades, upending longstanding assumptions on slavery's relation to law, property, sexuality and family; reconceiving understandings of slave economies; and engaging with issues of agency, autonomy, and freedom. These vibrant debates are explored in fifteen essays that place the Brazilian experience in dialogue with the afterlives of slavery worldwide.


  • Brodwyn Fischer

Regional Field

Transnational Themes

Research Cluster