Dr. Antoine Acker

Emergence of nature as a political subject in the “long developmentalist” period, when Brazil changed from an agrarian into an industrial country (1930-1980).

Antoine Acker | FT 2015

Antoine Acker studied history in Bielefeld, Paris and Lisbon. He holds a Ph.D. from the European University Institute, Florence, where he researched the history of a farming project led by the Volkswagen company in the Brazilian Amazon from 1973 to 1987. During the year 2014-2015, he worked as a lecturer in Brazilian history and culture at the University of La Rochelle, and was invited as a research fellow at the Center for InterAmerican Studies of the University of Bielefeld (January-February 2015) as well as a teaching fellow in history and political sciences at the University of Maastricht (April-June 2015). He was a lecturer in German Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris (2013-2014), a lecturer in Brazilian History at the University of La Rochelle (2014-2015) and a guest scholar in the universities of Bielefeld, Maastricht and Bern (2015-2016). Since February 2016 he holds a Marie Curie Fellowship (Train2move) at the Università degli Studi di Torino.

This T2M-project explores the relation between politics and nature during the twentieth century in Brazil, with a specific focus on petroleum. While the exploitation of other key resources had caused environmental depletion, social inequalities and economic dependence, oil represented an opportunity to privilege controlled over spontaneous extraction, and use the benefits to reinforce the nation state. The aim of this project is to understand how far oil really served these purposes and what political transformation resulted from the new approaches towards the exploitation of resources in Brazil. New historical sources will be used to insert these interrogations within a global context, take the influence of popular classes into account and study the material interaction between humans and nature.

Publications (Selection)

  • “The greatest fire on earth: How VW and the Brazilian military regime accidentally helped to turn the Amazon into a global political arena”, Revista Brasileira de História, 34(68) | 2014. p.13-33.
  • “The brand that knows our land: Volkswagen's ‘Brazilianization’ in the ‘economic miracle’ (1968-1973), MONDE(S). Histoire, Espaces, Relations, 5 | 2014. p.199-218.