Isadora Moura Mota

Assistant Professor of History
Office Phone
G-30 Dickinson Hall

Isadora Moura Mota is a historian of slavery in Brazil and the Atlantic world. Her scholarship focuses on modern Brazilian history, comparative slavery, abolitionism, literacy, and the African diaspora to Latin America.

Mota’s first book, Freedom’s Horizon: Black Abolitionism in Nineteenth-Century Brazil, explores the role of Afro-Brazilians in shaping the history of abolition in the Atlantic world. The study traces the development of a geopolitical imagination among the enslaved as well as the escalation of black activism in connection to British efforts to suppress the slave trade, the U.S. Civil War, and the Triple Alliance War (which pitted Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay against Paraguay from 1864 to 1870). Ultimately, she argues that abolitionism was also a grassroots movement anchored in the social and conceptual lives of slaves, recaptives, freedpeoples, and quilombolas, therefore positing Brazil as an important force in the Age of Emancipation. The book is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Future research directions include an intellectual history of Afro-Brazilians centered on how they acquired, practiced, and gave meaning to literacy as well as a study of shared labor struggles between European colonists and the enslaved in the plantations of Southeastern Brazil.

Mota received her Bachelor’s degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, a Master’s degree from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), and a PhD from Brown University in 2017. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2019, she was an assistant professor of History at the University of Miami. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences Research Council, Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance at Yale University, and Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

Selected Publications:

“On the Verge of War: Black Insurgency, the ‘Christie affair,’ and British Antislavery in Brazil.” Slavery & Abolition, 43:1 (2022), pp. 120-139. DOI: 10.1080/0144039X.2021.2006576

Cruzando caminhos em Ibicaba: escravizados, colonos e abolicionismo durante a Revolta dos Parceiros (São Paulo, 1856-7),” Afro-Ásia 62 (2021), pp. 291-326. DOI:

Escravos abolicionistas nas terras diamantinas (Minas Gerais, 1864)” In: Reis, João José & Flávio dos Santos Gomes, eds. Revoltas Escravas no Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2021, pp. 325-363.

“Other Geographies of Struggle: Afro-Brazilians and the American Civil War.” Hispanic American Historical Review 100.1, Feb. 2020, pp. 35-62. DOI.

Area of Interest
Foreign Relations
Intellectual History
Race & Ethnicity
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
19th Century
Latin America and the Caribbean