Oliver Dinius is the Executive Director of the Croft Institute and Associate Professor of History. His research is on modern Latin America. A native of Germany, he received the equivalent of a B.A. from the Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg before moving to the United States to pursue doctoral work in Latin American history. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2004 and joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi the same year. Dr. Dinius's research focuses on the history of social and economic development, above all in 20th-century Brazil. His first book, Brazil's Steel City: Developmentalism, Strategic Power, and Industrial Relations in Volta Redonda, 1941-1964 (Stanford UP, 2011), is a history of the country's foremost state-owned enterprise, the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional. He is also the co-editor of Company Towns in the Americas: Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities (University of Georgia Press, 2011).
Currently, Dinius is working on two projects under the umbrella theme of development and inequality in postwar Brazil: a monograph on the history of regional development initiatives for the Amazon region and a series of essays on the impact of Brazil's labor justice system on class relations. The underlying goal is to understand how regional and class inequalities shaped (and often undermined) the state's ambitious social and economic development policies.
For the Croft Institute, Dinius regularly teaches the Introduction to International Studies (Inst 101), the core course on Latin America (Inst 207), and upper-division courses on "The War on Drugs in Latin America," "The Problem of Inequality in Latin America," and "Soccer Madness: From Brazil to the World." He advises Croft senior theses on a wide range of Latin American topics. Dinius also offers lecture classes, upper-division seminars, and graduate courses on Brazil and modern Latin America through the history department.
Latin America is a region whose geographic fragmentation, ethnic diversity, and long history of colonial rule make for a highly divided society. In contemporary Latin America, the results of these historical divisions are still felt in a legacy of gross social inequality and everyday violence, despite encouraging political and economic developments in the early 21st century. The course aims to help you understand this conflicted history and its connections to recent movements for political, economic, and social reforms.
The course opens with lectures that introduce you to the geography and history of Latin America touching on the colonial experience, migrations, race, economic development, authoritarianism, and U.S-Latin American relations. Our in-depth exploration of contemporary Latin America is subdivided into four units that use country case studies to illuminate broad themes: (1) Social Revolutions (Cuba & Venezuela), (2) Economic Development (Brazil), (3) Globalization (Mexico), and (4) Indigenous Movements (Bolivia).
First, we look at the cases of Cuba and Venezuela to understand a formative aspect of Latin American politics: social revolutions. Contrasting the 55-year old Cuban Revolution with the 15-year old Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela illuminates continuities and differences in ideology and policy. Next we study different facets of Mexico’s recent (and partial) transformation from a state capitalist economy to a market system. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), mass migration to the North, and the exploding drug trade are all important facets of this ‘globalizing’ Mexico. Then we look at the case of Brazil to understand the connections between economic policy and different forms of government. The rise of the Workers' Party under its leader Luiz ‘Lula’ Inacio da Silva, Brazil’s President from 2003 to 2011, illustrates the changes the country underwent in the last 50 years. Last but not least, we study the Andes region and a political phenomenon of the last fifteen years: indigenous movements. In the case of Bolivia, one such movement defied the forces of global capitalism and carried Evo Morales, an indigenous leader, to the country’s Presidency.
This is a course about Brazil, about Brazilians' obsession with their 'national' sport, and about soccer obsession as a global phenomenon. The course will use Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup, as its main case study. Fueled by consistent on-the-field success over the last half-century, Brazilians of all ages and both sexes root for their national team, the seleção, with a passion that borders on obsession.
The first part of the course will be devoted to understanding Brazil's soccer mania in its historical context. How did soccer become closely tied to national identity? Why did military governments promote soccer mania? When, why, and how did Brazilians come to believe that their team deserves to win every World Cup? The second part of the course explores soccer mania in Brazil today from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. What does it mean for a very unequal nation that all Brazilians, from the slum dweller to high-rise apartment owner, root for the national team? What does hosting the 2014 World Cup mean for Brazil and Brazilians? How did family parties and massive public viewings with a carnevalesque atmosphere become the way to watch national team soccer?
In the third part of the course, students will pursue a project that applies what they learned about soccer mania in Brazil to studying soccer culture in another country (preferably a 'developing' country, not a traditional European soccer nation!). While students have the option to present their research in a conventional academic paper, my preferred format would be a simple website that uses (moving) images, sounds, and text. Each student's site would be a module in a larger site on global soccer mania.