John D. French

John D. French

Professor of History

External Address: 
331 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
(919) 684-2536


I am a professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Duke University in Durham North Carolina. With a B.A. from Amherst College, I received my doctorate at Yale in 1985 under Brazilian historian Emília Viotti da Costa. Since 1979, I have been studying class, race, and politics in Brazil, Latin America, and beyond with 42 refereed articles and three books: The Brazilian Workers ABC (1992/1995 in Brazil), Drowning in Laws: Labor Law and Brazilian Political Culture (2004; 2002 in Brazil), and a coedited volume The Gendered Worlds of Latin American Women Workers (1997). I have just completed the first of a multivolume biography of Brazilian trade unionist turned President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva: The Unknown Lula: The Origins of a Brazilian President, 1945-1968

I have over the years served as Director of the Duke's Latin American Center and the Carolina-Duke Consortium, Treasurer of our national interdisciplinary organization LASA, and co-editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review for a five year term that ended in June 2017.  Over the past five years, I have founder and served as co-director of the Duke Brazil Initiative, the Global Brazil Humanities Lab of the Franklin Humanities Institute (2014-17), and a leader of the Bass Connections Project om "The Cost of Opportunity: Social Mobility and Higher Education in Rio's Baixada Fluminense" 

My past grad advisees have completed dissertations on Bolivia, Brazil (2), Chile, Jamaica & Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Venezuela, and southeastern pacific marine environmental history. My graduate teaching includes the "Modern Latin American History" colloquium, a two semester sequence on "Afro-Brazilian History and Culture," and "The Latin American Wars of Indepenedence." Over the years, I have directed numerous undergraduate theses in a variety of disciplines, eight of which won prizes. My undergraduate offerings include surveys of Brazilian, Afro-Brazilian, and Modern Latin American history and Global Protest with a new offering planned on the political and military history of the Latin American Wars of Independence.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1985

French, JD. "Women in postrevolutionary Mexico: The emergence of a new feminist political history." LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS AND SOCIETY 50.2 (2008): 175-184. Full Text

French, JD, and James, D. "Polemics and an ‘Army of One’: Responding to John Womack Jr." Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 5 (2008): 125-129.

French, JD. "Learning the Craft: The Role of Graduate Mentoring." AHA Perspectives 45 (November 2007).

French, JD. "Mulheres no México Pós-Revolucionario: Rumo a uma Nova História Política Feminista." Revista da Universidade Rural- Série Ciencias Humanas e Sociais [Universidade Federal Rural de Rio de Janeiro] 29 (July 2007): 222-230. (Review)

French, JD, and James, D. "The Travails of Doing Labor History: The Restless Wanderings of John Womack Jr." Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 4 (2007): 95-116. (Academic Article)

French, JD. "Review of Angus Wright and Wendy Wolford, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil." Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 4.1 (2007): 141-143. (Review)

Fortes, A, and French, JD. "“’Another World is Possible: The Rise of the Brazilian Workers’ Party and the Prospects for Lula’s Government”." Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 2 (2005): 13-31.

French, JD. "The Robert J. Alexander Interview Collection." Hispanic American Historical Review 84.2 (May 1, 2004): 315-326. Full Text