Pitzer Professor Daniel A. Segal Awarded Research Fulbright to the Amazon

Professor Daniel A. Segal

Claremont, Calif. (July 6, 2017)—Daniel A. Segal, the Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and professor of history at Pitzer College, has been awarded a Fulbright Program Scholar Research Fellowship to examine the entry of the Brazilian state into the northern Amazon. Within the context of a larger theoretical study of “the state” across historical contexts, Segal will explore the impact of the increased presence of the federal state in the former Brazilian territory of Roraima from the late 1980s to today.

Through archival research and oral histories, Segal plans to develop a picture of what institutions of the federal state were re-made and scaled-up as a result of Roraima’s transition from territory to constituent state. Roraima became the twenty-seventh state within the Federal Republic of Brazil in 1988; prior to that, it was a territory.

Segal’s research will take him to both Brasilia, Brazil’s federal capital, and Boa Vista, Roraima’s capital city, which Segal describes as “one of the most remote urban places in the world.” Over the past three decades, Roraima’s transition from territory to federal state fostered large-scale inward migration from elsewhere in Brazil, both of unschooled workers and highly educated and credentialed persons of the professional-managerial cases.  The pre-existing population and these differently positioned newcomers had divergent “lived experiences” of Roraima’s transition, Segal writes, illustrating “the historical specificity of state-making and its effects.”

Through his Fulbright Fellowship, Segal will fill in gaps in existing social science literature on this region.

“There is a large body of excellent scholarship about the indigenous people living in the Northern Amazon, but there is no comparable body of work on either the state or what—in Brazilian terms—is the ‘Brazilian’ population (meaning all non-Indians) of the area,” Segal said.

This project draws on Segal’s experience in the region—he has been traveling to the Northern Amazon for nearly five years—and his longstanding fascination with the impact of political transitions on ordinary lives, which dates back to his graduate school days.

“In some ways, the project is analogous to my PhD work I did 30 years ago looking at Trinidad’s transition from a colony to an independent country,” Segal said. “How state formation enters into daily life and changes people’s lives is a long-term interest.”

Segal will conduct two months of Fulbright research this summer and two months next summer. In between, he will be back at Pitzer, where he will bring his research into the classroom.

“I aim to teach students how scholars think and solve problems,” Segal said. “As a professor, you talk about your research or you are not doing your job.”

Now entering his 32nd year teaching at Pitzer, Segal is both an anthropologist and historian whose courses include The Modern State and Historical Remembering: the Israeli Case. He was the inaugural director of Pitzer’s Munroe Center for Social Inquiry and is a former fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He received his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago and his BA from Cornell University.

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946, is one of the most prestigious scholarly awards in the US. Past Fulbright recipients include Nobel laureates, heads of states, Pulitzer Prize winners and MacArthur Fellows. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

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