British Association for American Studies


Book Hour with Roberto Saba and American Mirror: The United States and Brazil in the Age of Emancipation.



Roberto Saba and American Mirror: The United States and Brazil in the Age of Emancipation


The Next U.S. Studies Online’s Book Hour will take place 12th January 2022 at 7.30pm GMT/2.30pm EST with Dr. Roberto Saba, who will talk with us about his award winning book, American Mirror: The United States and Brazil in the Age of Emancipation (Princeton University Press, 2021). American Mirror investigates how American and Brazilian reformers worked together to ensure that slave emancipation would advance the interests of capital.

American Mirror is Volume 37 in the series America in the World, which “brings together the work of a new generation of scholars writing the history of “global” America across time periods, methodologies, and fields of analysis.” It is vitally important to remember that Americas is not only New York City, Washington DC or the tumultuous Bible Belt states. The Americas are a vast and the histories are equally momentous. In American Mirror, Dr. Saba will speak of Brazil’s enslaved people’s history and the impact thereof to the economy and advances in the Americas. Dr. Saba reiterates how by the. 1850s, “the United States and Brazil, the two major in dependent slave societies in the Western world [and] Slavery fueled the economies of both countries, producing valuable agricultural commodities for the global market.”[i] The chapters will cover issues ranging from the historical steps taken through slavery to emancipation, the white supremacist attempts to curve innovation and modernization in order to keep life “so pleasant and agreeable, and to which I had all my life been accustomed”[ii] as dreadfully said an Alabama cotton planter who returned to Brazil after the fall of the Confederacy.

Dr. Saba’s book is about the progress, about the tireless work by the American and Brazilian antislavery reformers who worked to advance Brazil away from the confines of slavery so that the industrial capitalism could begin to flourish where it was direly needed. Dr. Saba summarizes that “American Mirror traces how, as the problem of slavery shook their countries, American and Brazilian antislavery reformers acted concertedly to turn upheaval into opportunity. This transnational modernizing collaboration crossed four decades, beginning in the 1850s, when the United States was about to erupt into a destructive conflict over the extension of slavery, and triumphing in the late 1880s, when Brazil completed its gradual emancipation pro cess.”[iii]

Currently, Dr. Saba is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, and he is currently an Associate Professor of History and American Studies at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. In his research work, Dr. Saba researches the United States and its engagement with other parts of the world, and he approaches his subjects from transnational and comparative perspectives, the experiences and perspectives as he explores the emerging transnational structures of this period. As described by the 2022 Albert J. Beveridge Award board, Dr. Saba’s American Mirror is a “field-changing book argues that abolition was central to the development of systems of capitalism in both the US and Brazil, and that planters and businessmen in both nations (including southern expatriates in Brazil) engaged deeply with each other on these questions.”


What is more, as the USSO is a network geared toward postgraduate students and early academic researchers, Dr. Saba will also, along with talking about authoring American Mirror, talk about the issues faced by postgraduate and early career researchers. Dr. Saba will especially ruminate on the challenges and importance of making academic works relevant and understandable to a broader audience.


The Book Hour is free to attend but registration is required in order for organizers to send you a secure Zoom link.

You can reserve a spot for the Book Hour with Roberto Saba here!

When registering, please ensure to leave a current email address in order to receive a secure Zoom link prior to the talk. After the talk, there will also be a Q&A open for all attendees.



End notes:

[i] Saba, Roberto. American Mirror: The United States and Brazil in the Age of Emancipation. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2021), 1.

[ii] Ibid., 131.

[iii] Ibid., 5.



#USSOBOOKHOUR is an opportunity for scholars to share their most original voices and connect with young researchers and readers, and we are pleased to offer an honorarium for our invited speakers. Anyone is welcome to join the talk.

We invite scholars in American Studies to introduce their latest publications that generate heated debates, innovative ideas, meaningful conversations, and spark thought. Each talk lasts for about 30-40 minutes, followed by a Q&A session (or a roundtable discussion).

Get in touch with Aija Oksman, the Book Hour Organizer and Book Review Editor at usso@baas.ac.uk if you would like to co-host, to take part with your book, or ask questions about #USSOBookhour in general.