Yale Conference Commemorates Visionary Statesman Joaquim Nabuco

A two-day conference commemorating the centenary of two lectures delivered at Yale by Brazil’s first ambassador to the United States, Joaquim Nabuco (1849–1910), will take place in Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall, 120 High Street, April 4 and 5.

Brazil’s first ambassador to the United States, Joaquim Nabuco (1849–1910)

Titled “Joaquim Nabuco at Yale: Statesman, Author, Ambassador,” the conference, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday and resume on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Considered one of the most distinguished political and intellectual figures of his age, Nabuco is revered in Brazil for his crusade for the abolition of slavery. His formative years were divided between the plantation in Pernambuco where he spent his early childhood, and an elite school on the European model in Rio de Janeiro.  Nabuco was one of the founding members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and served as Brazilian ambassador in London before coming to Washington, D.C. in 1905. His tenure as Brazil’s ambassador to the United States, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, belongs to a period of the first pan-American conferences.

Nabuco was a prolific writer in Portuguese, French, and English.  A biography by his daughter Carolina Nabuco was translated to English and published by Stanford University Press in 1950.  His writings on abolitionism were translated and published by University of Illinois Press in 1977.

Nabuco’s lectures at Yale were the first of a series that he delivered at six U.S. universities in 1908–1909.  Three were studies of the Portuguese poet Camões, and three were on Brazilian and American civilization.  Nabuco sought to put Brazil and the United States on a comparative and equal footing as leading nations of the Americas.  In 1906, he arranged for Elihu Root to visit Brazil—the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State to Latin America.

Specialists on Nabuco and Latin American history and political thought will participate in the conference. These include professors Leslie Bethell, Oxford University, editor and author of the “Cambridge History of Latin America”; Stephanie Dennison University of Leeds, author of a 2006 book published by Oxford University Press on Nabuco’s pan-Americanism; and Jeffrey Needell, University of Florida, a specialist on late-19th-century Brazilian politics and culture. Among other conference participants are the Brazilian consul general to Chicago, Ambassador João Almino, and John Schulz, author of  “The Financial Crisis of Abolition” (Yale University Press, 2008). Almino, author of the recently published novel “The Five Seasons of Love,” will discuss Nabuco’s view of the “two Americas.” Schulz will address the failure of social reform.

Nabuco’s 1908 visit to Yale represents the most important contact between the University and Brazil.  Members of the Nabuco family, Brazilian diplomatic corps, and officials of the Brazilian government are expected to attend. The conference was organized by Professor K. David Jackson (Department of Spanish & Portuguese), a scholar of Brazilian literature.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345