CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Samuel Huntington and '€œDecompression'€ in Brazil

January 15th, 2016
12:00 pm

100A Jones Hall, Greenleaf Conference Room

The Harvard political science professor Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) was a leading scholar of comparative politics and international relations and an influential foreign policy advisor. Huntington was interested in Brazil and made several visits there in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974, during the presidency of General Geisel, he made a visit to Brazil in order to advise the government about ‘€œdecompression‘€, President Geisel‘€™s policy of liberalization. This period has often been interpreted as the beginning of democratization in Brazil. What did Huntington recommend to the government during his visit to Brazil? What impact did this advice have? And who in turn influenced Professor Huntington? This presentation, based on research in a hitherto inaccessible archive, attempts to answer those questions. It challenges the notion that ‘€œdecompression‘€, for Huntington and the Geisel administration, was intended to lead to democratization. It also describes the network of Brazilians who influenced Professor Huntington‘€™s view of Brazil. The presentation attempts to place an encounter between an American academic and his Brazilian hosts in the context of the liberalization of the Brazilian authoritarian regime, US-Brazilian relations, and the politics of the Cold War.

Anthony W. Pereira is a Professor and Director of the Brazil Institute at King‘€™s College London. He obtained his B.A. from Sussex University (U.K.) in 1982 and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1986 and 1991 respectively. He has held positions at the New School, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tulane University, and the University of East Anglia. In 2005 he was a visiting professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE). His books include Political (In)justice: Authoritarianism and the Rule of Law in Brazil, Chile and Argentina (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); a Portuguese translation of the latter, entitled Ditadura e Repressão (Paz e Terra, 2010), and a volume edited with Lauro Mattei called The Brazilian Economy Today: Towards a New Socio-Economic Model? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Professor Pereira has recently published articles in Third World Quarterly, Latin American Perspectives, and the Bulletin of Latin American Research. Currently at work on a book about the Brazilian state, Professor Pereira is President of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA). Dr. Pereira can be reached at

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