Isadora Moura Mota


Ph.D., Brown University (2017)

Office: Rm. 615 Ashe
Phone: 305-284-5965
Fields of Interest: Modern Brazil, comparative slavery, African Diaspora, Latin America


Isadora Moura Mota is a social historian of Latin America and the Atlantic World. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, she specializes in the history of slavery in nineteenth-century Brazil, transatlantic abolitionism, and the African diaspora to Latin America. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, a Master’s degree from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), and a PhD from Brown University in 2017. Her research has been supported by several institutions, including the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp) and the Social Sciences Research Council.

Mota is currently writing a monograph on the transnational history of abolition in Brazil. Drawing on research into juridical and diplomatic documentation housed in Brazilian, American, and British archives, her work traces the development of a geopolitical imagination among people of African descent – both enslaved and free – in the context of Great Britain’s crusade against the slave trade and, especially, the American Civil War. Envisioning Brazil as the South American battlefront of the U.S. war, Mota shows that Afro-Brazilians rebelled in great numbers as they learned about African American emancipation through hemispheric networks of grapevine communication, collective reading of newspapers, and informal economic exchanges. As they imagined Brazil at the forefront of a transnational struggle for freedom, Afro-Brazilians fashioned a radical interpretation of the Age of Emancipation that directly influenced the origins, meanings, and legacies of abolition in the Atlantic World.

Mota’s interest in exploring the role of Latin America in shaping larger processes such as the emergence of global capitalism, racial ideologies, and diasporic identities informs the classes she offers at UM. These include courses on the history of modern Brazil, comparative slavery, cultural exchanges between Brazil and Africa, as well as racial relations in Latin America.