Professor Carolina Sá Carvalho awarded two prestigious international awards for her first book

April 16, 2024 by Berenice Villagómez

The Department of Spanish & Portuguese is delighted to announce that Carolina Sá Carvalho, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures in our unit, has received two prestigious international awards for her ground-breaking book Traces of the Unseen: Photography, Violence, and Modernization in Early Twentieth-Century Latin America, published by Northwestern University Press in 2023.

Sá Carvalho’s exceptional contributions to her fields have been recognized by both the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Environment Section.

The Roberto Reis BRASA First Book Award recognizes the two best books in Brazilian Studies published in English that contribute significantly to promoting an understanding of Brazil. The award honors Roberto Reis, one of the founders of BRASA, who was committed to developing Brazilian Studies in the United States.

Traces of the Unseen analyses photographic images and gazes to unravel the interactions of modernization, environmental degradation, and institutionalized violence across Brazilian hinterlands—from Canudos to Amazonia and beyond”. According to the First Book Prize Committee, “This rich and original treatment moves between a variety of inventive primary sources to demonstrate the many roles of photographs and photography in the march of capitalist modernization that swept through Latin America in the early-twentieth century. The work deftly balances interdisciplinary theoretical engagements with accessible historical narratives to demonstrate how nations, economies, and technologies developed together and through interrelation. This book reminds us how literary and media studies, and indeed the broader humanities, have much to contribute to the most challenging political-environmental issues and debates of the twenty-first century.”

Expressing her gratitude, Sá Carvalho said “I am deeply honored to receive the Roberto Reis BRASA First Book Award. It’s humbling to be in the company of scholars that have been so important in shaping the field of Brazilian studies and my own writing”.

The second accolade, the Best Book Publication Award presented by the Environment Section of the Latin American Studies Association, also acknowledges Traces of the Unseen as a remarkable exploration of environmental issues within the context of Latin American modernization. On this honor, Sá Carvalho said: “This award was established more recently – as the field is gaining institutional recognition – and I am delighted to be part of the conversation that is bringing together scholars in various disciplines to collaborate and bring visibility to Latin American environmental studies”.

She also expressed her appreciation for the opportunities to do interdisciplinary research: “These networks of collaboration and exchange make possible and give meaning to the work that I do. I am thankful for students and friends in Rio de Janeiro, Princeton, Chapel Hill, and Toronto, who helped me think through these ideas. I also owe a debt of gratitude to a group of women scholars in the humanities who work on environmental issues in Latin America who came together to share works in progress and discuss ideas just in time for the final revisions of my book. The generosity and brilliance of this group of scholars has not only been a source of support and inspiration but also a reminder of the importance and joy of collaboration.”

Our heartfelt congratulations to Prof. Carolina Sá Carvalho for these remarkable awards!


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