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The 'Vanderbilt Boys' and the Modernization of Brazilian Economics

Suprinyak Carlos Eduardo, Cedeplar/UFMG
García Fernández Ramón, UFABC

Economics as a scholarly discipline in Latin America was transformed during the 1960s and 1970s, when many countries in the region received financial and academic support from U.S. institutions ostensibly aimed at “modernizing” the standards of training and research in the field. Even though Chile remains the most well-known case, similar developments took place in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and elsewhere. In Brazil, the restructuring of economics derived much of its strength from a cooperation agreement signed between Vanderbilt University and the University of São Paulo, financially backed by USAID and the Ford Foundation. The paper recovers the early postwar origins of this partnership, the process through which it was implemented during the 1960s, and its influence in reshaping Brazilian scholarly standards. Just as the University of Chicago left a lasting mark on Chilean economics, Vanderbilt also became a pervasive point of reference for the future development of the discipline in Brazil. Different actors, institutions, and contexts, however, ultimately produced quite distinct results in each case.

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Keywords: Vanderbilt University, Ford Foundation, University of São Paulo, USAID, sociology of economics

Paper file