In this latest episode of In Theory, Disha Karnad Jani interviews Ian Merkel, assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Groningen, and author of the recent book, Terms of Exchange: Brazilian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences (University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Merkel’s work questions the idea of an insular French social science, by putting Brazilian intellectuals at the centre of a transatlantic exchange of ideas. Through professional and personal networks including Claude Lévi-Strauss, Fernand Braudel, Mário Andrade, Gilberto Freyre, and others, Merkel draws together critical elements of modern social science, such as the Annales school, theories of race, and structuralism, and shows how the interactions between these thinkers formed the basis of these ideas and were set against huge political upheavals such as the Second World War and Brazil’s 1964 coup.

Disha Karnad Jani is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Research Training Group “World Politics” at Universität Bielefeld. Her current book project is an intellectual history of the League Against Imperialism, 1927-1937. She is the co-host of In Theory, the podcast of the JHI Blog. 

Featured Image: View of Sao Paulo, 1920s. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.