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Celso Thomas Castilho

Associate Professor of History

           Celso Thomas Castilho’s research focuses on the political, cultural, and intellectual histories of modern Latin America. He received his doctorate from UC Berkeley, where he began work on slavery and abolition in Brazil; other interests include the public sphere, literary culture, and Afro-diasporic thought. His first book, Slave Emancipation and Transformations in Brazilian Political Citizenship (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016), received three prizes, including the 2018 Bolton-Johnson Prize from the Conference of Latin American History for best book in the field of Latin American history. He is currently at work on two book-length monographs that broaden the scope of the cultural and intellectual histories of slavery and Afro-Latin America. He is also interested in bridging conversations between Latin American and Latinx studies, developing a project on soccer, the Spanish-language media in the US, and the 1994 World Cup.

            His current book casts a fresh light on the problem of the public sphere by reassessing its relationship to the study of slavery in general, and to Latin American intellectual history, in particular. Tentatively titled, The Latin American Repertoires of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: The Public Sphere in the Age of Slavery, it centers the translations, adaptations, and theatrical performances of the story to call attention to a broad wave of cultural production of slavery and Blackness in the mid-nineteenth-century (1840s-60s). Highlighting the newspaper editors (including afrodescendants), women schoolteachers, and dramaturges who stoked this phenomenon, it obliges a reexamination of how the articulations of Blackness and anti-Blackness in popular culture shaped racialized power; it also prompts a fresh look at the gendered arena of cultural production, finding new themes and people from which to write the intellectual history of the period. Broadly, The Latin American Repertoires recovers how slavery influenced the dynamic and multi-lingual press and literary cultures of Latin America, drawing on examples from Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.

            This book builds on earlier work on abolition and political citizenship in Brazil, and the 2015 volume he co-edited with Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado of the University of São Paulo, Tornando-se Livre. It also expands from a special issue on the Spanish American abolitions, co-organized with Marcela Echeverri of Yale University, published in Historia Mexicana in 2019. Castilho has also started publishing on a third-book project that analyzes Black intellectual and literary circuits in the nineteenth century. An early contribution appears in Press, Power, and Culture in Imperial Brazil (2021), which he co-organized with Hendrik Kraay of the University of Calgary and Teresa Cribelli of the University of Alabama.


Selected Publications


Edited Volumes & Special Issues:

Journal Articles:

Book Chapters (selected) :

  • Celso Thomas Castilho, “Abolition and its Aftermath in Brazil,” in Cambridge World History of Slavery: Vol 4. 1804 to the Present Day, eds. Seymour Drescher, David Eltis, Stanley Engerman, and David Richardson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 486-509.
  • Celso Thomas Castilho, “Propõe-se a Qualquer Consignação, Menos de Escravos”: o problema da emancipação no Recife, ca. 1870,” in Tornando-se Livre, 277-92.

Awards, Fellowships, and Professional Service

  • 2021-22, Vice-President of the Conference of Latin American History
  • 2018 Bolton-Johnson Book Prize from the Conference of Latin American History
  • 2018 Warren Dean Book Prize from the Conference of Latin American History
  • 2018 Roberto Reis Book Prize from the Brazilian Studies Association
  • 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program. Lectured at the University of Alabama.
  • 2014 winner of the Kimberly S. Hanger Article Prize, awarded annually by the Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Southern Historical Association, for the article, “Performing Abolitionism, Enacting Citizenship: The Social Construction of Political Rights in 1880s Recife, Brazil.”
  • 2012-2013, Fellow, Robert Penn Warren Center Sawyer Seminar Fellow, Age of Emancipation: Black Freedom in the Atlantic World. Vanderbilt University.
  • 2011 Conference of Latin American History Award for Best Article: “Funding Freedom”.


  • History of Brazil (undergraduate)
  • Gender, Law, and Slave Emancipation in Latin America (undergraduate)
  • Soccer in the Americas (undergraduate)
  • Methods and Practice of History (undergraduate)
  • Histories and Historiographies of Modern Latin America (graduate)
  • Research Seminar in Latin American History (graduate)

Celso Thomas Castilho was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He earned a BA in history at UC Berkeley, an MA in Latin American Studies at UCLA, and returned to Berkeley to complete a doctorate in history.