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Celso Thomas Castilho

Associate Professor of History

Celso Thomas Castilho is an associate professor of history, and director of CLACX. In January 2023, he becomes president of the Conference on Latin American History (CLAH), an affiliate of the American Historical Association, and the largest and oldest society of its kind in the US.


His research interests span the study of slavery, the cultural field, and political history, with an emphasis on the nineteenth century. Trained in Latin America history at UC Berkeley, Castilho’s 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 Latin American history. He is currently writing a book about the translations, adaptations, and theatrical performances of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Latin America. This study draws attention to a broad wave of cultural production of slavery and Blackness in the mid-nineteenth-century, and analyzes this process for its bearing on the racial and gendered dynamics of the public sphere, as well as, for its influence on the ebbs and flows of slavery. Tentatively titled, The Latin American Repertoires of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book highlights the newspaper editors, women schoolteachers, and dramaturges, including afrodescendants, who stoked this phenomenon, in places, such as, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro. This project builds on his recent collaborations that include co-organizing a special issue of Historia Mexicana on the Spanish American abolitions (2019), and co-editing a volume on the press in nineteenth-century Brazil (2021).


Director of CLACX since Fall ’21, Castilho thinks about this opportunity as an intellectual project; one that is grounded in a robust course of study that feeds and reflects Latinx-facing public initiatives, as well as, stimulates new research possibilities that cross the conventional borders of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies. He is particularly interested in amplifying the study of Latin American and Caribbean diasporas, as these shape not only US-based realities, but also refract on questions about Latin America and the Caribbean. He explores these issues in the classroom, including through a course called “Fútbol-Soccer: Latinx Culture, Gender, and Diaspora.” Castilho is also the co-PI of 2 major, four-year grants (AY 2022-26) grants from the Department of Education that deepens CLACX’s institutional partnerships in the US South, sustains language training at Vanderbilt, and significantly enhances K-12 education collaborations. The grants total $1.7m, and earned CLACX the designation of a National Resource Center in Latin American Studies; the NRC designation is the highest recognition an academic center can receive.


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.