North-South Encounters: the Inter-American beginnings of community development programs

Thiago Lopes, Richard E. Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar

Thursday, October 13, 2022 | 02:00 pm



In this presentation, Thiago Lopes will discuss some of the findings of his postdoctoral research project on the history of social-scientific exchanges and rural development policies in the Americas in the 1940s. Drawing on his recent research experience at the Center for Southwest Research/University of New Mexico, he will focus on the role played by U.S. rural sociologist T. Lynn Smith in the agricultural cooperation policies of the Roosevelt Administration for the Americas. Smith’s diplomatic and scientific missions to South America, allowing him to engage in meaningful intellectual dialogues with Latin American thinkers such as the Brazilian writer Oliveira Vianna, were a key factor in his own reformist efforts of strengthening communitarian forms of life amid the negative effects of capitalist development in the countryside. According to Thiago Lopes, Smith’s work gives us an opportunity to reexamine traditional narratives in Scientific and Intellectual History concerning the flow of ideas and developmental models from the Global North to the Global South while also inviting us to investigate theoretical and methodological ways of addressing power asymmetries in the global production/circulation of knowledge.

Thiago Lopes is a sociologist and historian based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, currently working as a researcher at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation’s Department of History. Since his graduate studies, he has been delving into the history of US-Brazil relations in the fields of the Social Sciences and Technical Cooperation. In 2019, he was awarded the Fulbright Prize for Best Dissertation in Brazil after earning his PhD degree from the History of Science Graduate Program at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. More recently, Thiago Lopes has acted as a visiting scholar attached to the New York University’s Department of History and to the Latin American & Iberian Institute/ University of New Mexico. He is the author of Em busca da comunidade: ciências sociais, desenvolvimento rural e diplomacia cultural nas relações Brasil – EUA (1930-1950) (Rio de Janeiro, 2020).


This event is free and open to the public.