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I am native of São Paulo, Brazil, where I worked for years as an art director doing graphic design and motion graphics. I had always been interested in history and geography, which led me to earn a bachelor’s degree in history at University of São Paulo. My engagement with both historical inquiry and visual communication brought me to pursue graduate education in digital humanities. I moved to the United States to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in Latin American History at Stanford University, where I used my skills as art director to explore new visual forms of historical narratives through digital media.
Teaching and Research Interests
My research deals with the history of Latin America— especially Brazil—in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I focus on the intersection between environment and society, with a particular interest in the spatial and social implications of environmental policies. Currently, I am working on a book on the environmental history of the border between Brazil and Argentina in the twentieth century, and the creation of the iconic national parks of Iguaçu (in Brazil) and Iguazú (in Argentina), two of the oldest and most visited protected areas in Latin America.
I am also leading a second project with colleagues from Stanford and University of Maryland on the spatial history of nineteenth-century Rio de Janeiro. At NCSU, I am part of the Visual Narratives cluster, a project launched by the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Cluster Program to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between engineering and humanities disciplines.
At NC State, I teach courses on Latin American history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on the theory and methods of digital history. I also plan to introduce courses on spatial history and history of Brazil. I am interested in topics such as modern environmental history, policymaking and state formation, transnational and borderlands history, animal studies, as well as historical GIS, network analysis, design, and visualization.
I am currently leading two digital humanities projects:
The Urban Panorama Project is developing a method to assess urban change by introducing two novel elements in the craft of digital historians: 1) the use of historical images of streetscapes as primary sources; 2) the use of computer vision and machine learning in the geolocation and analysis of these images.
This project investigates the spatial and environmental history of the establishment of the Iguazú National Park in Argentina and the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil through the use of aerial and satellite imagery from the 1950s to the 2010s.
I am the recipient of a National Endownment for the Humanities Fellowship, and in fall 2019 and spring 2020 I will be on leave, finishing my monograph Boundaries of Nature: National Parks and Environmental Change at the Argentine-Brazilian Border, 1890-1990.
Big Water: The Making of the Borderlands Between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, co-edited with Jacob Blanc. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2018.
Boundaries of Nature: National Parks and Environmental Change at the Argentine-Brazilian Border, 1890-1990. Book Manuscript.
For a complete list of publications, see my CV.
Dr. Freitas works with students in Latin American history, environmental history, and digital humanities.
- PhD in History from Stanford University, 2016
- MA in History from Stanford University, 2011
- BA in History from University of São Paulo, 2008