Research Collective

The Lesser Research Collective participates in numerous health-related projects in São Paulo including the production of multi-lingual health guides (in Korean, Spanish, and Chinese) for physicians, nurses and community health care workers, the mapping of risk locations, and working with health-care professionals on methods for improving immigrant health.

I am the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Brazilian Studies and a History Department faculty member at Emory University in Atlanta. I was named the first full-time faculty director of the Halle Institute for Global Research in 2017. I have been a visiting professor at the University of São Paulo’s Institute for Advanced Studies since 2015.

In my current research on health, immigration, and the built environment I engage with researchers, health professionals, and patients. For the last four years I have been conducting archival research and observing Dr. Fernando Cosentino‘s medical team at the Bom Retiro Basic Health Clinic in São Paulo, Brazil. This clinic is part of the Brazilian National Health Service, known as SUS.

Projects

Structural Health: Immigrants, the State, and the Built Environment in São Paulo, 1870-2020

“Structural Health” examines interactions between immigrants and representatives of the state like health professionals, policymakers, and police. Combining historical research, oral histories, and spatial analysis of the built environment, I use humanistic approaches to understand cultural and physical permanencies between the past and the present. I analyze “Public Health” and its relation to “The Public’s Health” as overlapping categories that are often at odds. My work broadens “Public Health” beyond disease to include institutional projects that lead to policies and professional training of generally non-immigrant and monolingual actors. “The Public’s Health” often diverges from state-driven approaches and represents the multiple ways that residents of immigrant-populated urban districts like Bom Retiro understand issues like disease, noise, abuse, crime, and space as critical components of their health. Unlike traditional ethnic histories that often focus on single immigrant groups and their relationship with the state, “Structural Health” uses a multi-ethnic neighborhood to analyze how the state and its representatives often flatten cultural differences and why immigrants, despite different historical and cultural trajectories, often generate similar responses to policies.

In addition to archival and literary research, the Lesser Research Collective has been constructing an interactive cartographic platform of Bom Retiro and conducting research in the Bom Retiro Basic Health Clinic to explore long-term continuities in the relationship between health professionals and the public. 


“Pauliceia 2.0”:  Collaborative Mapping Project for the City of São Paulo, 1870-1940

“Pauliceia 2.0” brings four different institutions, across two continents, together in transforming the relationship between the past and present and between producers and consumers of digital history. Pauliceia 2.0’s computational platform allows scholars and the broader public to collaborate in creating, organizing, storing, integrating, processing, and publishing urban history data sets.  Using the city of São Paulo during its period of urban and industrial modernization (1870-1940) as a base, Pauliceia 2.0 provides access to a common database and allows interaction among researchers, who contribute spatially- and temporally-represented events.  The platform allows researchers to produce maps and visualizations while at the same time contributing to the data within the system. This open source project enriches understanding of the history of São Paulo and offers an innovative model of research for the humanities that fosters collaborative work and the free flow of knowledge. 


Published Books: Research on Immigration and Ethnicity in Brazil

My most recent book, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 2013; Editora UNESP, 2015) examines the immigration to Brazil of millions of Europeans, Asians, and Middle Easterners from the nineteenth century to the present.

I am also the author of A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy (Duke University Press, 2007; Editora Paz e Terra, 2008), awarded the 2010 Roberto Reis Prize (Honorable Mention), Brazilian Studies Association; Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Duke University Press, 1999; Editora UNESP, 2001), awarded the Best Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association-Brazil in Comparative Perspective Section; and Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question(University of California Press, 1994; Imago Editora, 2005; Tel Aviv University Publishing Projects, 1997), awarded the Best Book Prize, New England Council on Latin American Studies. 

Recent Visits to Emory University Research Sites

My scholarly research is critical to my work as Director of the Halle Institute that include frequent site visits where I have the opportunity to engage with Emory researchers, their global partners, and the communities where they are based.