Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Rebecca Atencio

Associate Professor - Spanish and Portuguese

Contact Info

Department Affiliation
Spanish and Portuguese


My research specialty is late twentieth and twenty-first century Brazilian literature, cinema, and television with a focus on human rights and feminisms. My book Memory’s Turn (Critical Human Rights series, University of Wisconsin, 2014) sought to theorize the synergies between certain cultural works (including films, memoirs, TV miniseries and telenovelas, novels, and theatrical plays) and the institutional measures implemented by the State to reckon with the military-civilian dictatorship that governed the country for twenty-one years. It received a best book award from SECOLAS and honorable mention by the Brazilian Studies Association. While writing the book I also created and oversaw the blog Transitional Justice in Brazil maintained by Tulane undergraduate and graduate research assistants between 2012 and 2014.

While I continue to write about memory politics in Brazil, my research has increasingly focused questions of gender and sexuality. I am currently working on a project that traces the trajectory of Brazilian feminisms (in the plural) from the final years of the dictatorship up to presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. Some of my recent and current shorter projects meld these two areas of interest, such as my article in Current History exploring the relationship of human rights memory to Brazil’s 2018 elections and the mobilization of women in the #EleNão movement, as well as an essay, forthcoming in an edited volume on military memory in Latin America, that undertakes a feminist analysis of how military memoirs about the Brazilian military-civilian dictatorship have intervened in memory debates from mid 1980s to the current Bolsonaro administration. I’m currently working on a feminist rereading of the initial boom of autobiographical writings by Leftwing militants and revolutionaries, and article (with Fernanda Sanglard) analyzing the recent right turn in Brazilian memory politics, as well as an essay on documentary films about sexual violence in the wake of Brazil’s Primavera Feminista.

As of 2019, I am the Brazilian literature editor for the Luso-Brazilian Review, and have also served as an elected member on the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Studies Association (2012-2016). Since 2017, I have directed Tulane’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program (including its graduate certificate program). I teach courses on Brazilian literature and culture in the Department of Spanish and Culture and the feminist theory seminar for graduate students and majors in the Gender and Sexuality Studies program, and led Tulane’s summer program in São Paulo in 2014 and 2015. Recent upper level and graduate course topics include human rights in Brazil as well Brazilian cities.

  • B.A., Johns Hopkins University, Latin American Studies, 2000
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Portuguese, 2003
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Portuguese, 2006
Academic Experience
  • Associate Professor, Tulane University, 2009 -
  • Assistant Professor, Tulane University, 2009 – 2014
  • Assistant Professor, University of North Caroline-Charlotte, 2006 – 2009

Research & Teaching Specializations: Contemporary Brazil, the Brazilian military dictatorship, Memory Studies, Transitional Justice, Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures, Postdictatorial Latin America, Political Violence and Memory, Testimonial and Exile Literatures

Related Experience
  • Executive Committee Member, SECOLAS, 2014-
  • Executive Committee Member, Brazilian Studies Association, 2012-
  • Executive Committee Member, MLA Discussion Group, Lusophone Literatures outside of Portugal and Brazil, 2012-
  • Founder, “Transitional Justice in Brazil” (blog), 2012-
  • Editorial Board Member, The Latin Americanist, 2008-
  • Editorial Assistant, Luso-Brazilian Review, 2005-2006
  • Winner of the Simon Rodríguez Award for Best Undergraduate Teacher, Tulane University, 2017
  • Honorable Mention for Robert Reis Best Book Prize, Brazilian Studies Association, 2016
  • Thomas Award for Best Book, Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, 2015
  • Sturgis Leavitt Award for Best Article, Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, 2011
  • Glick Fellowship, School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University, 2011
  • Faculty Research Grant, UNC-Charlotte, 2006 and 2009
  • Evjue Foundation Research Award, 2004
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • French
Overseas Experience
  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Cuba
  • Nicaragua
Selected Publications
  • 2019. “From Truth Commission to Post-Truth Politics,” Current History 118 (February 2019): 68-74.
  • 2018. “Haunting Pasts and The Politics of Street Naming in Nicaragua and Brazil,” City & Society 30.1 (April 2018).
  • 2016. “O momento da memória: A produção artístico-cultural e a justiça de transição no Brasil.” Revista Anistia. Vol. 10: 114-130.
  • 2016. “Toward of Culture of Memory in Brazil: Reading Bernardo Kucinski’s K. as Testimony and Literature.” Luso-Brazilian Review. 53(2): 117-132.
  • 2016. “The Vivid Legacy of Dictatorship in Brazil.” With Nina Schneider and Ann Schneider. Introduction to Special Issue on “Memories and Legacies of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship: New Perspectives.” Bulletin of Latin American Research. 35(4): 1-2.
  • 2016. “Reckoning with Dictatorship in Brazil: The Double-Edged Role of Culture.” With Nina Schneider. Latin American Perspectives 20(2): 1-17.
  • 2015. “Reconciliation or Resistance? Fernando Gabeira’s O que é isso, companheiro? and the Amnesty Law.” Luso-Brazilian Review 51(1).
  • 2014. Memory’s Turn: Reckoning with Dictatorship in Brazil. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • 2013. “Acts of Witnessing: Site-Specific Performance and Transitional Justice in Postdictatorship Brazil.” Latin American Theatre Review (46.2): 7-24.
  • 2012. “Art and Transitional Justice.” Co-authored with Nancy Gates-Madsen. Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice. Eds. Lavinia Stan and Nadya Nedelsky. Cambridge UP.
  • 2012. “A Prime Time to Remember: Memory Merchandising in Globo’s Anos Rebeldes.” In The Memory Market in Latin America. Ksenija Bilbija and Leigh Payne, eds. Durham: Duke University Press. 41-68.
  • 2006. “Dangerous Minds: Brazil’s Escritura da exclusão and Testimonio.” Hispania. 89 (2): 278-288.

Recently-Taught Latin American-Related Courses: PORT-4130-01: Brazilian Cities, PORT-6920-01: Human Rights + Cultural Production

Number of Dissertations or Theses Supervised in the Past 5 Years: 7

Full CV or Website
Curriculum Vitae
Departmental Biography