Melissa Teixeira

Melissa Teixeira

Assistant Professor of History


College Hall 206 F

Melissa Teixeira is a historian of modern Brazil, with interest in legal history and the history of economic life. She is the author of A Third Path: Corporatism in Brazil & Portugal, forthcoming March 2024 with Princeton University Press. A Third Path explores Brazil’s response to the political, economic, and social crises of capitalism following the Great Depression. It highlights the pivotal but understudied interwar experiment with corporatism, a model that promised a “third path” between capitalism and communism. The book argues that corporatism transformed the Brazilian state into an agent of economic development, and explains why it matters that this transformation was engineered under an authoritarian regime. The book adopts a novel approach to the history of economic life by incorporating wide-ranging legal, economic, and cultural sources to document the process of state-building from the perspective of government ministries and grocery markets alike. It further innovates with its comparative and transnational approach to state-led efforts to reorganize the national economy by drawing upon connections to the New Deal in the United States, Italian Fascism, and the Portuguese Estado Novo.  

Teixeira is now researching a new project, tentatively titled Inflation and the Making of Brazilian Democracy, on how inflation shaped the undoing and remaking of democracy in postwar Brazil. The project begins with the economic crises surrounding the 1964 military coup and spans experiments to tame inflation and hyperinflation in the 1980s and 1990s, culminating with the 1994 Real Plan. Beyond macroeconomic trends, this project asks how economists, technocrats, consumers, bankers, and industrialists tried to fix or live with inflation. It offers an intellectual history of economic policy-making alongside a social history of how citizens hoarded or spent money amid constantly shifting economic rules, black markets, and declining real wages. In Brazil, decades of economic crisis shaped struggles for democratic accountability, social mobility, and economic justice. This makes Brazil an ideal case for studying government’s role in stabilizing prices, and how inflation shapes democratic governance and expectations. This project is currently supported by a Fulbright Grant for research in Brazil alongside a School of Arts and Sciences Opportunity Grant and a University Research Foundation Award.

Her broad research interests include the history of Brazil, Latin America, and the wider Lusophone world, economic history and the history of economic ideas, constitutionalism and legal history, the history of the social sciences, global history, and the methodological questions that arise with writing comparative and transnational history.

Teixeira received her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. She also holds an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from the University of Cambridge and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her arrival at Penn, Teixeira was a postdoctoral Prize Fellow in Economics, History, and Politics at Harvard University.

Office Hours
Wednesday 3:30 to 5:00pm; by appt.

Ph.D. Princeton University 

M.Phil. University of Cambridge

B.A. University of Pennsylvania

Courses Taught


HIST/LALS 450: History of Modern Latin America, 1808-present

HIST/LALS 1475: History of Brazil: Slavery, Development, Inequality            

HIST 2710: Inflationary Times: Money, Currency, & Debt in History

HIST 3703: Taking Off: How (some) Economies Get Rich

HIST 234: Decades of Extremes: Fascism, Protectionism, Imperialism



HIST 6710: Global History of Capitalism

HIST 660: Law and Economics in Latin America

Selected Publications

A Third Path: Corporatism in Brazil and Portugal (Princeton University Press, forthcoming March 2024).

“Austerity without Neoliberals: Reappraising the Sinuous History of a Powerful State Technology,” co-authored with Cristian Capotescu and Oscar Sanchez, Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics 3, no. 2 (2022): 379-420.


“Law and Legal Networks in the interwar Corporatist Turn: The Case of Brazil and Portugal,” in Crossing Borders: Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Europe and Latin America, edited by António Costa Pinto and Federico Finchelstein (Routledge Press, 2019), 200-217.


“Making a Brazilian New Deal: Oliveira Vianna and the Transnational Sources of Brazil’s Corporatist Experiment,” Journal of Latin American Studies (2018): 1-29.