Bruno Carvalho

Bruno Carvalho

Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies
Co-Director of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative
Affiliated Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design

Bruno Carvalho works on cities as lived and imagined spaces. Often, he investigates how socio-cultural processes of the past converge in and with the present. Carvalho is writing a book tentatively called The Invention of the Future: A Transatlantic History of Urbanization (under contract with Princeton University Press). It focuses on the experiences and aspirations of city dwellers and planners, recasting modern urbanization within a history of competing visions for the future, from the 1750s onward. The book proposes that urban histories can renew our capacity to envision and pursue large-scale transformations. A Rio de Janeiro native, Carvalho received his Ph.D. at Harvard University (2009) and was a faculty member at Princeton University (2009-2018).


Carvalho has published numerous articles and essays (see below). His interdisciplinary approaches tend to focus on relationships between cities and culture, bridging history, politics, literary analysis, and urban studies. He is the author of the award-winning Porous City: A Cultural History of Rio de Janeiro, published in Brazil in a revised and expanded edition. He co-organized a critical edition in Portuguese of United States constitutional documents, which circulated in Brazil and played a role in independence movements (O Livro de Tiradentes: Transmissão atlântica de ideias políticas no século XVIII, 2013). Carvalho is also editor of Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies: The Eighteenth Century, and co-editor of Occupy All Streets: Olympic Urbanism and Contested Futures in Rio de Janeiro (2016), Essays on Hilda Hilst: Between Brazil and World Literature (2018), and of the book series Lateral Exchanges, on historical and contemporary issues in design and the built environment.


At Harvard, Carvalho is Co-Director of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative. He also Co-Chairs the Art, Film, & Culture Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and serves as a member of the Faculty Standing Committee on History and Literature, of the Advisory Committees on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights, and of the Brazil Studies Program, as well as the Steering Committees of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, and the Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion. He is also a Faculty Affiliate in Critical Media Practice, at the Afro-Latin American Research Institute, the Center for the Environment, the Graduate School of Design, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He serves on the boards of the Dumbarton Oaks Ex Horto book series on garden and landscape studies, and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University.


To learn more about Professor Carvalho and his research, read these recent interviews with the Harvard Gazette, DRCLAS, and Brazilian publications Nexo and O Globo (in Portuguese).


Research and Teaching Interests:

Urban Studies; interplays between urban diversity, inequality and segregation; race and the history of racism; sociospatial theory; architecture and urban planning; migration; environmental humanities and climate change; film and media studies; Latin American studies; Luso-Afro-Brazilian literatures and cultures.

Links to selected recent publications:

NYT op-ed on urbanization, deforestation, and bioeconomies in the Amazon (with Carlos Nobre).

NYT op-ed on the war on drugs, state violence, and racism.

NYT op-ed on deforestation in the Amazon and our planetary futures.

“The Future as a Necessity: Reading Clarice Lispector in the Anthropocene,” Literature Beyond the Human (eds. Luca Bacchini and Victoria Saramago)

“Urban and Environmental Scales of Belonging in the Digital Age,” Companion to Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Latin American Literary and Cultural Forms (eds. Guillermina de Ferrari and Mariano Siskind)

“O que será diferente amanhã?,” Tomorrow Anew

“Não foi você: uma interpretação do bolsonarismo.” English version: “It’s Not Your Fault: An interpretation of the fantasies and strategies of Bolsonarism (and Trumpism)”  

“Where Did the Future Go?,” Between Catastrophe and Revolution (eds. Daniel Bertrand Monk and Michael Sorkin)

“Learning with São Paulo,” São Paulo: A Graphic Biography (bilingual edition)

“Imagined Futures,” Fluvial MetropolisPast Visions /Future Imaginaries (bilingual edition)

“Partian Enlightenments: Predecents & Possibilities for the 18th Century in Luso-Brazilian Studies”

“Who’s Afraid of Hilda Hilst?” (with Adam Morris)

“Anchor Arts Institutions & Divided Cities”

Writing Race in Two Americas: Blackness, Science and Circulation of Knowledge in the Eighteenth-Century Luso-Brazilian World and the United States”;

Rio, City of Epithets: Olympic urbanism in context”; “Occupy All Streets:  Protesting a Right to the Future”; “Um erradio na Cidade Nova;”

An Arcadian Poet in a Baroque City: Cláudio Manuel da Costa’s Urban Pastorals, Family Life, and the Appearance of Race.” “Introduction,” Hilda Hilst, Letters from a Seducer; “Entre dois palcos: o futebol e o teatro na literatura de Nelson Rodrigues;” “A favela e sua hora,” English version: “The Favela and Its Moment”; “Filmes sem futuro: reflexões sobre fins e finais em documentários de Errol Morris e Eduardo Coutinho,” Cinema, A Indústria Radical; “From Iberia to Recife: Mysticism and Modernity in Manuel Bandeira’s Earlier Poetry;” “Um Outro Sertão Literário: linguajar pantaneiro e espaço nacional em Inocência de Taunay;” “A ética de andar nas ruas do Rio de Janeiro;”  “A Tale of Three Buildings: Brazil’s Estado Novo;” Charting Brazil in Borges;” “Mapping the Urbanized Beaches of Rio de Janeiro: Modernization, Modernity, and Everyday Life.”




Contact Information

518 Boylston Hall
p: (617) 496-3826
Office Hours: Contact faculty for office hours