Hal Langfur


Hal Langfur.

Hal Langfur


Hal Langfur



History of Latin America and the Caribbean; History of Brazil; The Atlantic World; Indigenous History; Early Modern Racial Formation; Imperialism and Colonialism; Social and Cultural History; Transnational History


  • PhD, University of Texas, 1999
  • MA, University of Texas, 1995
  • AB, Harvard, magna cum laude, 1982

Courses Regularly Taught

HIS 143: Global Inequality and Power
HIS 199: Race and Gender in another America
HIS 328: History of Brazil
HIS 302: History of Colonial Latin America
HIS 403: Frontiers and Borderlands
HIS 433: Latin American Native Peoples
HIS 454: The Atlantic World
HIS 506: North and South Atlantic World Core Seminar
HIS 550: Frontiers and Borderlands
HIS 559: Colonial Latin American History Core Seminar

Research Interests

Colonial and post-independence Brazil; early modern Iberian Atlantic; racialization; comparative Indigenous history; cross-cultural encounters; cultures of violence; narratives of conquest and discovery; science and empire; history of information; state formation and territorialization.

Current Research

Titled “Pedagogies of Racial Violence in Colonial Brazil,” my current book project explores early transatlantic racialization in the context of what I call “coercive pedagogy.” It examines practices refined by authorities over several centuries to teach colonists and the colonized about the parameters governing the permissible use of force to coerce compliance. My objective is to clarify how the Portuguese learned to accept violence against peoples of Indigenous and African descent, organized along what we now construe as racial lines, during a time when race remained an exceedingly uncommon social construct. Although the emergence of race as a lynchpin of oppressive hierarchies may now seem obvious or inevitable, in practice it required the relentless, methodical forging of a complex system of reeducation whose South Atlantic origins and intricacies remain poorly understood.

Selected Publications


Adrift on an Inland Sea: Misinformation and the Limits of Empire in the Brazilian Backlands (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2023)

  • Winner, Roberto Reis Book Prize, Brazilian Studies Association

Native Brazil: Beyond the Convert and the Cannibal, 1500-1900 , edited by H. Langfur, (University of New Mexico Press, 2014)

The Forbidden Lands: Colonial Identity, Frontier Violence, and the Persistence of Brazil's Eastern Indians, 1750-1830.   (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006. Paperback, 2009.)

  • Honorable mention, Warren Dean Prize Book Prize, Conference on Latin American History
  • Honorable mention, Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Book Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory


“Native Peoples of Brazil,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History, ed. Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press (Jan. 2020). (10,000-word online publication.)

“Race and Violence in Portuguese America,” in The Cambridge World History of Violence, vol. 3, ed. Robert Antony, Stuart Carroll, and Caroline Dodds Pennock (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 55-76.

“Protest and Resistance against Colonial Rule in Iberian America,” with Charles F. Walker, in The Iberian World, 1450 – 1820, ed. Fernando Bouza, Pedro Cardim, and Antonio Feros (London: Routledge, 2019), 617-34.

“Native Informants and the Limits of Portuguese Dominion in Late-Colonial Brazil,” in The Oxford Handbook of Borderlands of the Iberian World, ed. Cynthia Radding and Danna Levin Rojo (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 209-34.

“Cannibalism and the Body Politic: Independent Indians in the Era of Brazilian Independence,” Ethnohistory 65, no. 4 (Oct. 2018): 549-73.

"Frontier/Fronteira: A Transnational Reframingof Brazil's Inland Colonization," History Compass 12, no. 11 (Nov. 2014): 843-52.

“Elite Ethnography and Indian Eradication: Confronting the Cannibal in Early Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” in Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives, ed. Susan Sleeper-Smith (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009), 15-44.

“Colonial Brazil,” in A Companion to Latin American History, ed. Thomas H. Holloway (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007): 89-105.

"The Return of the Bandeira: Economic Calamity, Historical Memory, and Armed Expeditions to the Sertão in Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1750-1808," The Americas 61, no. 4 (April 2005): 429-62.

"Moved by Terror: Frontier Violence as Cultural Exchange in Late-Colonial Brazi," Ethnohistory 52, no. 2 (spring 2005): 255-89.

With Stuart B. Schwartz. "Tapanhuns, Negros da Terra, and Curibocas: Common Cause and Confrontation between Blacks and Indians in Colonial Brazil" in Black and Red: African-Indigenous Relations in Colonial Latin America, ed. Matthew Restall (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005), 81-114.

"Uncertain Refuge: Frontier Formation and the Origins of the Botocudo War in Late-Colonial Brazil," Hispanic American Historical Review 82, no. 2 (May 2002): 215-56.

"Myths of Pacification: Brazilian Frontier Settlement and the Subjugation of the Bororo Indians," Journal of Social History 32, no. 4 (Summer 1999): 879-905.


  • Robert Reis Book Prize, Brazilian Studies Association, 2023
  • Brazilian Ministry of Education Grant and Visiting Professorship, Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, 2022.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago, 2012
  • R. David Parsons / Donald L. Saunders Research Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, RI, 2013
  • Humanities Institute Research Fellowship, University at Buffalo, fall 2010
  • Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Book Prize, honorable mention, American Society for Ethnohistory, 2006.
  • Warren Dean Book Prize, honorable mention, Conference on Latin American History, 2007
  • Paul Vanderwood Prize for the best Article on Latin American History, Conference on Latin American History, 2006
  • Tibesar Prize for Best Article in The Americas, Conference on Latin American History, 2005
  • Fulbright Lecturing/Research Grant, Universidade Federal de São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2005.
  • Albert J. Beveridge Grant for Research, American Historical Association, 2003.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, RI, 2001-2002.
  • Kimberly S. Hanger Article Prize for best article on Latin America, Southern Historical Association, 2001-2002