image of Jeffrey Lesser

Meet the Director

Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, was named the first faculty director of the Halle Institute for Global Research in 2017. He is a specialist in Brazilian Studies and modern Latin American history.  

Lesser’s research focus is on the construction of national identity in Brazil, focusing on how immigrant and ethnic groups understand their own and national space. His current research examines the relationship between health and immigration in Brazil. His research has been supported by grants including Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council, the Ford Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. His research and teaching include archival, oral and digital materials and use a range of methods.    

Lesser is the author of numerous prize winning books including, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil, A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, awarded the 2010 Roberto Reis Prize (Honorable Mention), Brazilian Studies Association; Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil, awarded the Best Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association-Brazil in Comparative Perspective Section; and Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question, awarded the Best Book Prize, New England Council on Latin American Studies.    

Lesser is the series editor (with Matthew Gutmann) of The Global Square: Into the 21st Century (University of California Press) as well as co-editor (with Raanan Rein) of Rethinking Jewish-Latin Americans. He is also the editor of Searching for Home Abroad: Japanese-Brazilians and Transnationalism; and Arab and Jewish Immigrants in Latin America: Images and Realities.