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Criticizing and building

Amaury de Souza contributed to the establishment of political science in Brazil

Family ArchivesSouza: books that help explain Brazil’s current statusFamily Archives

A brilliant intellectual, an outstanding political scientist, a multitalented academic and a courageous liberal. The qualities normally attributed to him by friends, colleagues and students were multiplied by other voices after August 17, when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.

Souza was born in the city of Uberlândia, State of Minas Gerais, where he enrolled in the sociology and politics course and the management course at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, from which he graduated in 1965. He then moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he became one of the founders of the University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (Iuperj). He was also a professor at the Department of Economics of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

He spent some time in the United States as visiting professor at the University of Michigan and at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He got a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1970s. According to sociologist Bolívar Lamounier, who had been Amaury’s friend ever since adolescence, his PhD thesis was on the Brazilian labor union movement. Amaury de Souza was a fierce critic of the labor union’s corporate structure. “His colleagues from his undergraduate days, who played a major role in establishing the field of political sciences in Brazil included Antônio Octávio Cintra (Ph.D. from MIT), Bolívar Lamounier (Ph.D. from Ucla), Fábio Wanderley Reis (Ph.D. from Harvard), José Murilo de Carvalho (Ph.D. from Stanford) and Simon Schwartzman (Ph.D. from Berkeley),” wrote Octavio Amorim Neto, a professor at the Brazilian School of Public Administration of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Ebase/FGV).

After returning from the United States, Souza became an activist in the movement to re-establish democracy in Brazil. He fought for structural reforms, such as the control of inflation and the reform of the State, which began to be implemented in the 1990s. “Amaury also dedicated his studies to empirical methodology applied to social-political research, a field in which he gained a solid reputation as the leading expert of our generation,” Lamounier wrote about his friend. Since the 1980s, Souza had been working as a consultant. He was a director of Techne, a business consulting firm, and of MCM, a consulting firm specialized in economics and political analysis.

In the last few years, he wrote two books that help one to understand Brazil’s current status: A agenda internacional do Brasil: a política externa brasileira de FHC a Lula [Brazil’s international agenda: Brazilian foreign policy from FHC to Lula], published in 2009, and A classe média brasileira: ambições, valores e projetos de sociedade [The Brazilian middle class: ambitions, values and society projects], published in 2010. He wrote the latter together with Bolívar Lamounier. “At that time, he switched his field of interest to international relations,” Lamounier wrote. “He participated in an international project on the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and on South Africa. He had started writing a book on the international aspects of Brazil’s political and economic development when he was diagnosed with cancer.”