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.  

Faculty Director of the Halle Institute for Global Research

As Director, he has reorganized the Halle Institute to promote innovation and creativity through cross-school programs that connect Emory to researchers around the world, bridge disciplines, drives research, and engages the university community in global dialogues. He supports ambitious international projects for scholars at all career stages that foster vibrant, collaborative relationships and enhance research outside of the United States across Emory’s nine schools. He has created many new research programs that generate and expand individual and collaborative faculty excellence. He leads graduate and undergraduate research and seminar programs that create multidisciplinary and engaged student-scholars.

Dr. Lesser joined the Halle Institute for Global Research following six years as Chair of Emory University’s history department. He has published numerous prize-winning books and articles, and received major national and international fellowships from Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council, the Ford Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is a 2005 winner of Emory University’s International Teaching Award.

Dr. Lesser has a BA and MA from Brown University and a Ph.D. from New York University.   A specialist in Brazilian Studies, with a focus on questions of race, ethnicity, and immigration, he lectures around the world and frequently appears in the press.

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History - 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.