Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Felipe Fernandes Cruz

Assistant Professor - History

Contact Info

Department Affiliation


My historical research focuses on the role of technology—and cultural ideologies behind technological developments—in shaping modern Brazil and its frontiers. My book manuscript titled “Flight of the Toucans: Aeronautics and Colonization in Brazil’s Frontiers” explores the role of science and technology, especially aviation, in the colonization of Brazil’s vast frontiers. It shows how popular culture, positivistic elites, and a technocratic state came together in an almost religious belief that aviation was a solution to many of Brazil’s problems, and that the technology’s ability to conquer large distances would integrate the country’s distant territories. These ideological notions about aviation shaped the very development of the technology in Brazil. The application of these technocratic solutions, the book argues, created a unique frontier, with distant locations connected primarily by air, and where flying was commonplace for indigenous peoples.

I have also written about what I call “guerilla technologies,” technical know-how and practices created by technicians and inventors at the margins of society and developed outside of, and often in conflict with, formal technologies and authorities. My forthcoming article “Fire in the Skies: Guerrilla Technologies, the Environment and Airspace in Brazil” (in Technology and Culture) explores this concept by following the history and contemporary practices of baloeiros, artisans mostly in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo who practice the illegal art of launching hot air balloons. I have also written and directed a documentary film about the cultural phenomenon of criminalized hot air ballooning in Brazil.

I also have a strong interest in digital humanities and its applications in research, teaching, and public history. I have developed an app called CuratAR that makes augmented reality accessible to a much wider public without any technical training. The app allows users to select target images, such as photographs or paintings in museum, or signage in historical sites, and add new information such as scholarly text, videos, photos and maps to be displayed over the real world in augmented reality. I am also currently working on a project to build an affordable device (under $50) for digitizing historical materials on the field. It is tentatively called the “Pocket Archivist” and it will be used to crowdsource the preservation of historical materials in community or personal archives, or to affordably digitize historical collections that might be at risk of destruction.

As a strong believer in the importance of public scholarship, I was a co-founder and managing editor of The Appendix: A Journal of Narrative & Experimental History, which created a new forum to bridge the gap between academic and popular publishing for the humanities—bringing academics from different fields together with artists and journalists to produce high quality history writing for broad audiences. The Appendix reached over a million readers, and its articles have been featured by major publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic and The Paris Review.

  • B.A., Florida State University, History, 2007
  • M.A., The University of Texas at Austin, History, 2010
  • Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, History, 2016

Research & Teaching Specializations: Modern Brazil, History of Technology, Digital Humanities, Ethnography, Oral History

Related Experience
  • Researcher/Instructor, Digital Writing and Research Lab, University of Texas at Austin, Present
  • Co-Founder, The Appendix: A Journal of Experimental and Narrative History, 2012- Present
  • History Graduate Council, The University of Texas at Austin, 2010-2011
  • Carlos E. Castañeda, Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, 2012
  • Smithsonian Visiting Researcher, Nation Air & Space Museum, 2012
  • Faculty Sponsored Dissertation Research Grant, Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Asutin, 2011-2012
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • German
Overseas Experience
  • Brazil
Selected Publications
  • Forthcoming. “Fire in the Skies: Airspace, the Environment and Guerrilla Technologies in Postwar Brazil.” In Technology and Culture.
  • 2012. Tio Sam em Ares Tropicais: O Olhar Norte-Americano Sobre a Aviação Brasileira Brasileira [Uncle Sam in Tropical Airs: The North American Purview on Brazilian Aviation]. In Anais do 1º. Seminário Nacional da História da Aviação Brasileira. (Vol. 1)
  • 2014. “An Art of Air and Fire: Brazil’s Renegade Baloonists.” In The Appendix: a new journal of Narrative and Experimental History. (Vol. 2, Issue 4)

Recently-Taught Latin American-Related Courses: HISL-2820-01: Modern Brazil, HISL-2910-01: Frontiers: From Jungle to Space, HISL-6910-01: Rebellion & Crime in Latin America

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Curriculum Vitae
Departmental Biography